Review: Endgame

The beautifully witty play was supported by competent actors

cambridge review Cambridge Theatre Corpus Playroom Endgame samuel beckett theatre review

Coming into the space I was immediately impressed by Jessie Mathewson’s and Nicole Ng’s work on costume and set design respectively. Two bins; Hamm (Tim Atkin) covered in a plastic sheet; Nagg (Seth Kruger) stooped in the doorway, black eyeliner and a what looked like a hospital gown.

Image credit: Johannes Hjorth

Tim Atkin as Hamm was frankly astonishing. His oscillation between tragedy and comedy captured the essence of the show: as Nell says, “nothing is funnier than unhappiness”. The play embraced this.

Tim’s hilarious deliverance of severely bleak lines had the audience in stitches and, while the other actors supported this, the show went to him. In his fine-tuned eccentricism he managed to exude the energy needed for the show to succeed without disrupting the Beckettian tone of stiflingly continuous present.

Image credit: Johannes Hjorth

In their dustbins at the back of the stage, the elderly Nell (Alice Cartill) and Nagg (Declan Amphlett) created a great decaying parallel to the ever more decaying Hamm and Clov. As Hamm’s parents, they were pushed to the sidelines and ordered to be “bottled” regularly (this involved Clov slamming the the tops of their bins back on!) yet Amphlett established himself as a strong presence throughout the play, albeit with a slightly confusing accent. He produced probably the biggest laugh (out of me anyway) with his deliverance of the lines:

Hamm “Why did you engender me”
Nagg “I didn’t know”
Hamm “What? What didn’t you know?”
Nagg “That it would be you”

Kudos must also be given to Alice Cartill, who stayed covered on the stage for the majority of the show. When she did come out, her performance was strong.

Image credit: Johannes Hjorth

The play gained momentum towards the end, and I think it was indeed during the second part that Seth Kruger really shone. While at the beginning he seemed a touch mechanical, perhaps due to first night inexperience, he really had it nailed by the conclusion.

Endgame ended on suitably mundane nothingness. Sasha Amaya had the lights on stage dim down just a tiny bit, and the auditorium lights flickered on. The characters remained on stage, motionless, refusing to take a bow. Sam Fulton’s subtle direction really made this play come to life while staying true to Beckett’s rigid directions.

4.5 stars

Endgame plays until Saturday 13 June at Corpus Playroom, 7pm. Get your tickets here.