.{ ~ . . inst”,


Seen on final preview night, Sun 3 March. Tron Theatre. Glasgow, until Sat 23 March.

Possibly Beckett’s gloomiest play, Endgame is set in a room that might perhaps be a head (complete with memories buried in dustbins and windows for eyes), a remote and dessicated oasis in a desert world. Its occupants are stranded in a limbo familiar from Endgame’s predecessor Waiting For Godot - poised on the brink of existential breakthrough, but stymied by decrepitude and despair; taunted by withered memories of a decent life; stuck in a resentfully dependent relationship; bolstered by routines that have long since lost any purpose.

An overlong one-acter, it requires Ieavening - and this is precisely what director Michael Boyd and his top- rank cast set out to do. Taking cues from the characters‘ names, John Castle’s llamm focuses on the attention-seeking performer, delightedly orating empty rhetoric, while Forbes Masson’s likeable Clov is a once-dapper, music hall-influenced clown, performing a crowd-pleasing roster of physical gags that perhaps err on the fussy side. Of the bin- dwellers, Phil McCall’s bothersome Nagg embodies the grotesque infirmity of senility; while Jan Wilson’s cheerfully moribund Nell wearin evokes the lost treasures of youth.

Boyd and designer Tom Piper set the play in an explicitly theatrical box of tricks, dragging the audience into complicity with the characters and their bitter humour. Songs and a swelling soundtrack flesh out a production which revels in the self- consciousness of theatre, but uses the

Endgame: ‘aching despondency'

noise and light to form peaks that can

give way unexpectedly to the abyssal

troughs of nihilism at the play’s heart. It’s not quite enough to sustain all

s 100 minutes of an occasionally turgid play, but this production’s clarity, its

moments of inspired comedy and its aching despondency bring it about as close as you can get. (Andrew Burnet)

SliAN most is

of country music and pub quiz/cs. thc domcstic minutiac ol’ thc horn-again ycgctarian. or. as with Lco‘s ol‘l‘spring. thc hodin warmth ol’ last-gasp scsual liaisons thcy‘rc dcspcratc l‘or yct simultancously shrink from in tcrror.

Crammcd into thc Traycrsc’s sccond spacc. Philip Howard‘s production looks likc it might topplc into thc audicncc any sccond. whilc thc .swcll ot‘ human Iral'tic hctwccn sccncs giycs things a busy. cluttcrcd air which ~ giycn thc structurc of thc piccc is largcly unavoidahlc. Thc cnd rcsult .sccms to hc a dialcctical onc. (hit of thc dchris ol‘ old constructions marriagc. l'amily. truc low 7 ncw oncs hayc lo hc huilt. hoys‘cycr .scarcd and inarlicttlalc wc lind oursclycs in thc tacc ol‘ lhc


ccrchral. yct hcrc (ircig managcs cycn


'Ii'urr'rs‘t' 'l'i'zt'tiirt’. lir/iii/mijg/i. tmii.’ him It) .l/(ii't‘/l.

ln thc hcginning Black was (iod.

i Ilc crcatcd a world in which hc was thc

E ccntrc. and cycrything clsc rc\ olycd around him. But hc l'orgot ahout

pcoplc. and a world whcrc pcoplc comc s-ccond is no world at all. just a gral‘liti-

lrcc abstraction. Now this most scll- madc ol mcn must lacc up to his

drcam's collapsc. 'Iihc tow'cr blocks hc cny isagcd as a

.\'cw Agc Stonchcngc arc falling apart.

a Vaulting horsc l‘or would-hc suicidcs. At homc. an cxistcntial crisis lurks round cy cry corncr. 'I hcrc‘s a w it'c growing morc scll-sul‘licicnt hy lhc day. a son and daughtcr on scparatc roads to now hcrc conluscd and alonc

in a world not of thcir own making. 'l'hcn thcrc‘s thc pctition. 'l‘hc pcoplc ncycr considcrcd want his world dcmolishcd. want him to admit hc l‘ailcd. ('onsigncd to history dcspitc himscll'.’.s choicc is simplc. llc has

Dayid (ircig‘s ncw play lollows l‘N-l‘s [firm/w. sharing a similar prc- occupation with cycry traycllcr's nccd to cscapc thcir circumstanccs - to gct away. to gct oil with. to gct out ol‘ it. Or

.iust, in thc cm]. toch out. All othcr Edcsirc is ahscnt. 'I'his timc. though.

things arc mol'c claustrophohic‘ thc only solutions arc thc chcap scntimcnts

()l' coursc thc mctaphors ol‘crcction and impotcncc twhcrc oncc huilt

high riscs hc now dcsigns car parks) arc

old cnough to hayc prcscryation ordcrs slappcd on thcm. hut thcy'yc rarcly hccn applicd to thc disgraccs ol' contcmporary housing. [firm/w was criticist l'or hcing too .sclli-consciously

morc to dcal with big idcas whilc

rctaining an acccssihlc humanity. Ilrayc

cnottglt not to t‘csol‘l to trcndy in! (/t' sin/v thcorics. hc undcrstands thc splintcring ol‘ inodcrn timcs likc no othcr Scottish writcr. This is a truc blueprint for thc way forward. (\cil ('oopct'l



: Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat

§ 23 March.

Grand gestures are the stuff of legend , among aesthetes of all persuasions, though these days bad behaviour is

too often an excuse and a distraction from mediocre meanderings on a

typically blank canvas.

Miriam, a typically predatory

; Williams matriarch, stalks her hotel

barman while she waits for her toyboy

genius husband, Mark, who’s so lost in 3 his painting as to be obsessive and a

little bit flipped. An artist has to lay down his life, he says, so Miriam calls in the hoped-for cavalry that is callous, wheeler-dealer gallery owner

: Leonard. What follows is a spiteful 3 little stab at the hordes of high-rolling leeches who earn a crust on the backs

of other peoples creativity. By the time Tennessee Williams

wrote this play in 1969 he was well past his peak, struggling to keep up with a culture gone crazy. He was also a little flipped himself, his wayward lifestyle on the point of burnout. Here he paints what must’ve been a familiar portrait of two bored decadents on the make, bleeding Mark’s talent dry the scarlet paint smeared on his virgin white overalls suggests his entire insides have been ripped out indifferently dogging him in the knowledge that he’s as dispensable as any other commodity.

Of course, anyone familiar with Williams’ own myth-making will recognise the great man’s own sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness - sexual and creative in both Miriam and Mark, while Warhol and Jeff

i Koons would find a kindred spirit in

: Leonard. Yet despite the visual flair of

Philip Prowse’s production, this

i :

l l l

- remains a slight work. The effete,

grotesquely mannered delivery merely titillates, while all three main characters appear deeply unpleasant, riddled with self-indulgent conceit.

Nevertheless, it’s important for Williams’ lesser known works to receive the occasional outing to put them in context with his more familiar works. The Citizens’ might do worse than take a handful of Williams’ rarely performed one-act plays into their studio space, an ideal setting for such a programme of miniatures. They’re beautifully drawn, and considerably more substantial than this. (Neil Coopen


' ('ilin’iix' 'l'lu'uirtz (i/tisgmr iiii/i/ Stu 3.?

.llrirt'li. Jcan (‘octcau's I‘Bt) onc-acl monologuc is thc story ol' a woman on thc cdgc. It has hccn two days sincc hcr loycr ahandoncd hcr. and wc hcar hcr sidc of thc linal tortuous cschangc thcy hayc hy phonc. 'l‘hc woman w ho is not namcd » is thc cpitonic ol' dishcycllcd. .scll'-ahtiscd glamour. .-\s thc play hcgins. shc cmcrgcs in a glowing. silky rohc. throwing hack .slccping pills and promptly spcwing thcm up again. \thn thc phonc rings with a shrill clcctric scrccch which sccms to signal somc sort ot~ .-\rmagcddon shc lcaps upon it likc a bird of prcy.

llcr conycrsation with hcr l'ormcr loycr is almost cxcruciating to listcn to. Shc attcmpts to snhmcrgc hcr tIL‘sptlll






62 The List 8-2] Mar I996