Endgame

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Previewed 2 October 2009, Opened 15 October 2009, Closed 5 December 2009 at the Duchess Theatre in London.

Complicite present a new production of Samuel Beckett's classic play Endgame in London starring Mark Rylance and directed by Simon McBurney for a strictly limited season of 70 performances only.

Clov cannot sit down. The blind Hamm cannot get up. The shankless Nell and Nagg breath their last in ashbins. Like the final flames of a dying fire, Beckett's fools play out their fatal endgame. Endgame is Samuel Beckett's finest and wittiest parable of human fate in a falling world.

The cast for Endgame in London features Mark Rylance as 'Hamm', Simon McBurney as 'Clov', Miriam Margolyes as 'Nell' and Tom Hickey as 'Nagg'. The production is directed by Simon McBurney with designs by Tim Hatley, sound by Christopher Shutt, costumes by Christina Cunningham and lighting by Paul Anderson.

"Trust Mark Rylance to turn 90 minutes of manic-depressive death throes into something thrillingly alive... This production by Simon McBurney, for his company Complicite, brings out its joking despair beautifully. You may see Endgames that are more comical or more tragical. But the Complicite production has a tragicomic poise made utterly compelling by Rylance's wild sense of play in the main role... Tom Hickey and a beatific Miriam Margolyes work well as the parents, Nagg and Nell, looking like Muppets in their dustbin homes and, like Muppets, able to sell old jokes." The Times

"Even by Beckett's standards, this is a very desolate play in which for 90 minutes he rubs our noses in our own stinking mortality, our lives as a protracted and painful death. All that's left is verbal gamesmanship. So is it a masterpiece? Simon McBurney's revival doesn't persuade me that it is. You have to peer into the darkness of this production, as you would one of Rembrandt's most magnificent, soul-bearing portraits, but you get less out of it. It has its moments, but mostly it lingers to no great effect, never so amusing that you share Hamm's conviction that 'Nothing is funnier than unhappiness', nor so nightmarish that it haunts one's sleep. When Miriam Margolyes' Nell pops up from her dustbin and sighs: 'Ah, yesterday,' in response to her husband, just for one second a blissful expression lights up her face like a moon. Mark Rylance's Hamm can be wonderfully grand and theatrical, but his performance overall is too mannered, too John Cleeselike and fails to get under this old Hamm's skin. He is mesmerising, certainly, but not moving." The Mail on Sunday

When originally announced this production was due to star Richard Briers as 'Hamm' and Adrian Scarborough as 'Clov' (for performances up to 18 October when Simon McBurney would have taken over the role). The production was due to run from 18 September to 5 December 2009. At the time Richard Briers said that this would have been his last stage role. Unfortunately, due to scheduling commitments with another production he was due to appear in, Adrian Scarborough felt that he needed to withdraw from this production of Endgame. Richard Briers said: "After much soul searching, I have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from Endgame. It was a long held promise to play the role opposite Adrian. When that was no longer possible, I felt I had to leave the production although it meant losing the possibility of working with a great director and old friend, Simon McBurney. It is with great regret that I leave the company and wish Simon and Mark [Rylance] the best. I look forward to seeing the production when it opens at the Duchess Theatre." To accommodate the cast change the production will now start previews two weeks later on 2 October 2009.

Endgame in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 2 October 2009, opened on 15 October and closed on 5 December 2009.


Endgame with Michael Gambon and Lee Evans 2004

Previewed 25 February 2004, Opened 10 March 2004, Closed 1 May 2004 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

Matthew Warchus' revival of Samuel Beckett's play Endgame in London starring Michael Gambon and Lee Evans.

Clov cannot sit down. The blind Hamm cannot get up. The shankless Nell and Nagg breath their last in ashbins. Like the final flames of a dying fire, Beckett's fools play out their fatal endgame. Endgame is Samuel Beckett's finest and wittiest parable of human fate in a falling world.

The cast for End game in London features Michael Gambon as 'Hamm' and Lee Evans as 'Clov' along with Liz Smith as 'Nell' and Geoffrey Hutchings as 'Nagg'. Lee Evans is starring in the musical The Producers from October 2004. Directed by Matthew Warchus.

"This 1957 piece can only be carried off by the very best the theatre can provide. Enter the peerless Michael Gambon. What a spellbinding performance this is. Scruffily dressed, clutching a blood-soaked towel, Gambon's Hamm looks terrifying. But this is a doomed individual more terrified than terrifying. His unlikely co-star is rubber-limbed TV comic Lee Evans who is easily up to the challenge of playing Beckett's hobbling figure of tragic comedy Clov. This is not exactly lightweight froth. But there are quite a few laughs on the road to oblivion. As Nell so ruthlessly puts it: 'Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.'" The Daily Mirror

"The play is about the need to renounce hope and accept death. That's a brave and unusual message to send resonating through the commercial West End, and, as formulated by Warchus's cast, a gripping and even entertaining one too. Gambon gives us faded grandeur and engulfing cynicism and, when he learns that in this terminal-ward Earth even the painkillers have run out, a roar of anguish from the great O of his uplifted mouth. From Evans, the prevailing note is, as it should be, frustration. This can be comical. He forgets things, and, when he does, he brandishes his clenched fists, at one point nearly tumbling from a ladder in his exasperation. But the frustration goes far deeper than that. He's squandered his chance of happiness, wasted his life - and, yes, Evans's Clov makes us feel it." The Times

"In Hamm, Beckett has written a part tough enough to challenge the greatest of actors, and in Matthew Warchus's fine revival the magnificent Michael Gambon rises to it. He's never less than compelling, a tough task given that his eyes are obscured by dark glasses and he can move only his hands. Fortunately, Gambon's long, elegant, aristocratic fingers are among the most eloquent in existence and his voice is infinitely various... Lee Evans's excellent Clov hobbles around him in long johns, frowning, grunting and forgetting things... Warchus's tough, unsentimental production makes much of the play's theatricality." The Mail on Sunday

End game in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 25 February 2004, opened on 10 March 2004 and closed on 1 May 2004.