There certainly was a weight of responsibility for director Alexandra Emeljanow in helming this Very Popular Theatre Company production of Endgame.
Firstly, Endgame by theatrical giant Samuel Beckett is widely considered to be one of his greatest works, right up there with Waiting For Godot. Secondly, because Endgame was to be her father, local theatre giant Victor Emaljenow’s directorial swansong, but sadly passed away just prior to rehearsals beginning in April last year.
However, Alexandra has more than lived up to her theatrical responsibilities, helming a stellar production of this iconic Beckett piece.
The entire action in this absurdist drama takes place in a dank room, where Hamm (Daniel Stoddart) a blind man who is unable to stand and Clov (Ben Louttit), Hamm’s servant who is unable to sit, go about the minutiae of their lives amid some vaguely referenced apocalypse.
The pair are also joined by Hamm’s parents Nagg (Michael Smythe) and Nell (Felicity Biggins), both without legs and living in cylindrical barrels filled with sand.
With the world outside them crumbling, the four are left to contemplate the meaning of existence as they wait to join the rest of the world in nothingness.
While the basic premise may seem a tad nihilistic (and it is) that’s not to say that Endgame isn’t imbued with a fair amount of humour – much of it coming from Biggins and Smythe as Hamm’s decrepit and (literally) legless parents.
Daniel Stoddart gives a mesmeric performance as the tyrannical-yet-vulnerably frail Hamm and the chemistry that is cooked up between him and Louttit’s Clov is something to behold.
Speaking of Louttit, the pain of Clov’s mere existence, not to mention his symbiotic relationship with his benefactor Hamm, is writ large over Louttit’s performance with each laboured step and frustrated exchange.
This darkly-comic one-act piece is an absolute must for theatre fans and this particular production the perfect place to start for those wishing to dip their toe into the dark but deeply human Beckett universe.
Cast: Daniel Stoddart, Ben Louttit, Felicity Biggins, Michael Smythe.
Director: Alexandra Emeljanaow.
Endgame is on at The Playhouse on Thursday 22 (8pm) Friday 23 (8pm) and Saturday 24 August (2pm, 8pm). Get your tickets here