7 February 2020

Endgame at The Old Vic was typical Beckett

For reasons that escape me there is a flood of Beckett performances this year and hot on my visit to Jermyn Street Theatre for a Triple Bill of his works there I found myself at The Old Vic for two more.

As is customary at The Old Vic I went for a seat in the gods, Lilian Baylis Circle where seat A-16 cost me a reasonable £30. There is a safety rail directly across the view but, depending on the staging, I can either sit forward and look over it or slink down and look over it. This time I did a little of both.

Looking around it did not seem to be much of a Beckett audience and I suspect a lot of people were pulled in by Alan Cumming and/or Danial Radcliffe. My suspicions were reinforced when after the short opening play, Rough for Theatre II, the young woman behind me asked the person next to her to explain what was going on in the play as if expecting clarity and simplicity from Beckett.

Rough for Theatre II was an exploration of office work with documents explored and sections read out. Of course the situation was more complex than that and this was done while a man was poised to throw himself out of a window. The pointlessness and the pernicketyness of the situation made this a light funny piece, a reasonable appetiser for the main course.

Endgame felt something like Happy Days with the main character, played by Alan Cumming this time, unable, or unwilling, to move but the differences were significant; here there was much more dialogue with other characters and that dialogue was questioning.

It was still Beckett dialogue though and as with all his other plays (that I know of) it was poetic, quirky, humorous and pointless. That is what I had gone to see and Endgame delivered.

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