ONE character, Hamm, is blind and unable to stand. Another, Clov, the servant of Hamm, is unable to sit. Nagg, Hamm’s father, has no legs and lives in a dustbin and Nell, Hamm’s mother, has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg.
Such is the description Samuel Beckett gives of the four characters in his 1957 play Endgame.
At the Bedlam next week, the Edinburgh University Theatre Company present their take on the work.
Like Beckett’s other works, Endgame is celebrated for its abstract settings and characters, all taken from reality yet still holding on to specific aspects of the mundane.
Written in the Theatre of the Absurd style, EUTC producer Tamsyn Lonsdale-Smith says of Endgame: “The magic of his script is not in plot development so much, as it is in the rise and fall of character relations. What’s more, the very nature of its abstraction calls for varied interpretations of the script.”
The characters are victims of their situation, yet the origin of their current condition is never revealed. We enter their lives at a critical moment, the beginning of the end of a long and torturous existence.
“There is Hamm, confined to an armchair on casters since he has lost the use of his legs. His face covered by a bloodied handkerchief his sight also lost. Yet still he lives, as does his subordinate companion, Clov. Hamm is dependent on Clov, whose legs are still working yet he cannot sit.
“Nagg and Nell reveal themselves from their dustbins to reminisce over times long past, and complain about the sawdust in their meagre shelters. Neither can see clearly, and Nell’s hearing is failing. Nagg is still fond of his wife, although Nell has become weary and distant.”
Thought-provoking, Beckett toys playfully with monologues in such a way to invite the audience to explore the deepest and most bizarre crevices of our their minds.
“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that,” as Beckett wrote.
Endgame, Bedlam Theatre, Bristo Place, March 22-26, 7.30pm, £6.50, 0131-629 0430