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Samuel Beckett’s timeless, classic theatrical Masterpiece
Beckett is one of the most celebrated and influential dramatists of the twentieth century. His 1953 play Waiting for Godot with its incongruent plot and seemingly pointless dialogue, helped advance the concept of a “Theatre of the Absurd” and is regarded as a masterpiece. Beckett's plays utilize non-standard and minimalist staging techniques and experimental language and character development. Beckett continually strove to remove the physicality of the dramatic experience, e.g. elaborate staging, intricate sets, etc., in an attempt to illustrate the inner turmoil of humanity, and to force the audience to reach a higher level of understanding without relying on the traditional forms of theatre. Beckett's innovative style and stark exploration into the human condition were considered ground-breaking and his influence is apparent throughout contemporary theatre right around the world.
In Endgame, Beckett again focused on two characters, bedraggled survivors of an apparent holocaust. The two men, Hamm (Guy De Lancey) and Clov (Adrian Collins), are faced with the nothingness of their existence as they attempt to validate their lives, eventually falling back on memories to justify their existence. Beckett uses chess as the play's controlling metaphor, and he explores the human dilemma, mortality, and God's existence, without providing simple answers, as his characters, and the audience, move through an uncertain existence. The game of chess becomes the metaphor that gives a seemingly structureless play a dramatic scheme. The characters in Endgame are chess pieces. The metaphorical king of Endgame is the centre of attention, and the rules of chess apply to the characters, their setting, and their situation. The protagonist of the play is Hamm, an aged master who is blind and not able to stand up, and his servant Clov, who cannot sit down. They exist in a grimy and seemingly post-apocalyptic bunker. The two characters, mutually dependent, have been fighting for years and continue to do so as the play progresses. Clov always wants to leave but never seems to be able. Also present are Hamm's legless parents Nagg (Nicholas Ellenbogen) and Nell (Liz Szymczak), who live in rubbish bins, request food or argue inanely.