Friday, January 20, 2017

CT Theater Review: Endgame -- Long Wharf

Brian Dennehy and Reg E. Cathey. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
Endgame
By Samuel Beckett
Directed by Gordon Edelstein
Long Wharf Theatre
Through Feb. 5

By Lauren Yarger

What's It All About?
Samuel Beckett's exploration of the meaning of life.
Hamm (Brian Dennehy) is blind and confined to a wheeling chair since he can't stand. He is attended by by a servant, Clove (Reg E. Cathey) who can't sit down. The characters have a sort of adversarial relationship even while being dependent on each other. There is no life outside of the gray, bleak room littered with debris (set design by Eugene Lee). The only other characters are Hamm's legless parents, Nagg (Joe Grifasi) and Nell (Lynn Cohen) who dwell in large hampers -- think trash bins -- and only pop up occasionally to take some abuse form Hamm., directed by Edelstein.

What Are the Highlights?

Brian Dennehy on stage in anything is a highlight. The actor, who has starred in Love Letters (with Mia Farrow), Krapp’s Last Tape, and Hughie gives an excellent performance as usual. Cathey (“The Wire,” “Oz,” and “House of Cards.” ) is a worthy foil. The direction is tight and if I heard Hamm blow that whistle or Cloy slam that door one more time, I was going to scream (the mood was accentuated by blaring music tones at breaks in the action). All of the performances are solid with a special shout out to Cohen for making us remember Nell even though she only appears for a short stint in the already thankfully short 90 minute production.

The fake dog is pretty amusing.

What Are the Lowlights?
It's dark, confusing and a bummer. Typical Beckett, but not my cup of tea.

"Why do you stay with me?" Hamm asks.
"Why do you keep me?" Cloy replies.
"There's no one else."
"There is no where else."
"You're leaving me all the same," Hamm says.
"I'm trying," Clov replies.

Shoot me now. -- That is my despair, not the characters'.

More Information:
End Game runs through Feb. 6 at Long Wharf's Stage II, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven. Tickets are very limited at $99.50. Check with the box office about stand-by options. longwharf.org; (203) 787-4282.

Additional credits: Kaye Voyce (costumes), Jennifer Tipton (lighting).


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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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