Endgame: Dominic Hill's fresh spin on Beckett is earthy, and unearthly (4 stars)

Glasgow's Citz and Manchester's Home theatres breathe new life into classic tragicomedy

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Dominic Hill's fresh spin on Beckett is earthy, and unearthly

David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne as Hamm and Clov in Endgame / credit: Tim Morozzo

This co-production between Citizens Theatre and Home, Manchester proves hacking, wheezing new life can be pumped into one of Samuel Beckett's most famous plays. Dealing with the lives – such as they are – of two isolated survivors of a mysterious catastrophe, Dominic Hill's minimalist direction leaves the hinterland of co-dependency between blind Hamm and crippled Clov (Coronation Street stars David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne) to speak for itself.

Tom Piper's moulded over, rusting design makes no concessions to decor either, with the sands of time pouring through the ceiling, as the power struggles between sadistic Hamm and embittered Clov shift almost imperceptibly. Supporting characters Nell (Barbara Rafferty) and Nag (Peter Kelly) are shoved to the side in their dustbin resting places, almost like an afterthought – a wry comment, possibly, on the poor treatment of elderly people, placated with the biscuits and bon bons shoved into their cackling maws. Even the 'pets' – fleas, rats and a three-legged dog that doesn't move – are less than salubrious here.

Nostalgia is a trigger for sorrow in Beckett's world: the interminable, cyclical situation of tragi-comedy is only relieved by the twin rituals of storytelling and small quirky movements. But it is Gascoyne's performance which is outstanding, breathing pathos and malice alike in his every vaudevillian gesture, and giving this production a barbed beauty.

Reviewed at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Endgame

Beckett’s absurd and macabre play stars David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne.

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