July, 9th 2010
By: toto_too514
Edited by: Marcy

OK, so it’s no great secret that I am not a big Beckett fan...  I really didn’t like Godot when I read it. It just didn’t “click” for me. But when I saw it presented in a play I absolutely LOVED it. One of my best theater experiences ever – bar none. So when I read Endgame, and found that it irritated me more than anything else, I still held out hope that seeing the show would once again blow me away….

I’m still here.

I of course knew going in, that Randy’s part was quite small. He appears three times for a total of about 20-25 minutes in a 1 hour 40 minute play. Once again what he does w/ even such a small role is amazing. A lot of the character is body language acting and facial expressions. He is seen mostly from shoulders up, or even chin up.

The make-up IS a stark white power on every exposed area of skin. He wears a night cap and has his front teeth blacked out. He appears early on, for just a few minutes… actually his hands do first as they creep out of the trash can. Even the man’s hands are expressive! He looks bewildered and an even uncomfortable in the light… he gets you believing he really is an old man w/ his voice and the “old man habit” of smacking his lips and sticking out his tongue.

The second time he appears is his longest… he engages his wife Nell in reminiscing about their younger days. He reaches out frail shaky hands to tap on her trash can.  He offers to share his biscuit w/ her, which he had in his mouth as he first appeared. He has a fairly long speech telling a joke about a tailor… halfway through which he decides he isn’t telling it right. But he continues anyway, w/ the punch line falling flat. But he does manage to tell the joke as an old man taking on the voice of the tailor and his customer.

Even though he and Nell live in trash cans, they are actually more likeable than the main characters. (This is one of the big problems I have w/ the show.) Randy makes a great dirty old man though, as he and Nell swap a bit of innuendo in conversation - Nagg asks Nell to “scratch my back,” “lower,” “in the hollow,” all the while sending sly looks her way.

Even w/ the obvious limitations in acting out of a trash can, Randy conveys Nagg’s love for his wife… first w/ the biscuit, then offering to scratch her back, and desperately trying to reach out and kiss her. Unfortunately, Nell dies at the end of this scene.

Randy makes a final appearance bargaining w/ Hamm for a sugar plum if he agrees to listen to Hamm’s story. Clov leans down into the can and the muffled conversation reminded me of something from cartoons… think the wah, wah, wah that represents the adult voices in Charlie Brown cartoons.  As he listens he goes through a gamut of emotions… lost, confused, disinterested, distracted, and surprised. It really is a testament to his talent.

During this last scene Nagg has a conversation w/ Hamm… who had tricked him into listening b/c there never was a sugar plum. He complains that when Hamm was a small boy he used to call out for his father to comfort him from the dark. To which Nagg says something like, “We moved you out of ear shot.” (OK, THAT was funny!) They also talk about Nagg giving life to Hamm, saying something like, “If I had only known.” To which Hamm replies, “Knew what?” Nagg answers, “That it would be you!” Two beats pass, and they both break out in huge guffaws. (Yeah, that was funny too!)

As the scene ends, Nagg reaches out once again to tap on Nell’s can… but of course she doesn’t answer. How can Randy make me feel such sadness w/ such simple gestures? But I did. Clov does talk to Nagg again a few times, to report that he is crying or sucking on his biscuit… but we don’t see him again.

That just leaves us w/ the rest of the play. And unlike Godot, where there was a likability to the other characters, there was nothing about Clov or Hamm to like. They had no redeeming qualities.  I also didn’t see the humor in this show. I felt like Nagg listening to Hamm’s story… waiting for my sugar plum reward, which didn’t come!

Was curious to see how they would handle the bows at the end of the show. Hamm remained seated, Nagg and Nell stood about waist high in their trash cans. After applause ended, they both climbed out of the trash cans and walked off stage. Randy’s entire outfit looked like cotton pj’s and he was barefoot. The show was not a sellout, although the main section was full.

Copyright © 2010 randy-harrison.it | All rights reserved
Written by Trish edited by Marcy

Endgame by Trish
"Berkshire theatre festival" - Stockbridge