Endgame | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Endgame, Hypocrites, at Voltaire. Many interpretations have been imposed on the seemingly random action of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, but this is the first in my recollection to suggest that it's a parable of intergender abuse. There's Hamm--now aged, blind, and wheelchair bound--who was neglected in childhood by his self-absorbed parents ("You were frightened and called me," his father recalls, "but we let you cry"). There are his parents, imprisoned in twin trash cans after losing their legs in a bicycle accident, forced to endure their offspring's vengeful taunting. And there's Clov, Hamm's surrogate son, who doesn't see or walk too well but who may yet escape this dysfunctional torpor.

Whatever the unifying vision, the paramount problem in performing this enigmatic collection of rants, reminiscences, vaudeville shtick, and self-referential stage directions is to keep ambulatory spectators from becoming as bored as its characters. But in Sean Graney's production Will Schutz as Hamm and Todd Guill as Clov hold our attention through an unhurried but intense connection with their text, with each other, and with us (Voltaire's intimate space allows actors to make eye contact with their audience). The results are sufficiently engaging for the brief--less than 90 minutes--duration of this unpleasant but beguiling study in frustrated stasis, dormant fury, and belated remorse.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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