Eric Peterson and Maria Vacratsis as Nagg and Nell
Joseph Ziegler and Diego Matamoros as Hamm and Clov
In Soulpepper's remarkably beautiful production of Samuel Beckett's classic 'absurdist' dramedy, ENDGAME, director Daniel Brooks has revisited a piece of theatre that won him a Dora award for best productIon of the year over a decade ago. Brooks felt that "there was still so much to explore." And exploration is precisely the impulse that makes this a first rate production of a gorgeous poetic text. As the curtain rises the audience is immediately aware of the play as an articulate interrogation of all the sights and sounds that come with a piece of writing that continues to inspire spectators and artists alike with its timeless mixture of great melancholy and profound mirth.
Eric Peterson and Maria Vacratsis, as Nagg and Nell, deliver their lines as though they were symphonically in sync with the text and each others individual take on it. Silent moments of strained corporeal connection shed a sharp light on their incredible talent for comic physicalization and facial expression that incorporates pathos in a brilliant and poignant manner.
Diego Matamoros reprises the role he played in 1999 and gives the character of Clov an intense, stylized gait and explosively refined way of speaking that renders him the perfect straight man for Joseph Ziegler's superb version of the domineering Hamm. Ziegler is able to subtly deliver his overbearing directives in a way that highlights the poetic nature of a script that alludes to the work of T.S. Eliot, Santayana, Shakespeare, and Dante.
Set design by Julie Fox and costumes by Victoria Wallace create a deceptively light monotone environment that creates a dense confining space for the captive cast to inhabit. Richard Ferren's moments of technically superb sound design punctuate the opening and final curtain with the elegant, timeless quality Brooks has saturated the overall production with.
There is a tendency to view Beckett as a gloomy, meandering poetic voice in search of no real message at all. The current Soupepper production neither meanders nor falls into pointless despair. It entertains from beginning to end and refuses to answer all of the questions that have not been asked. A panoply of citation, poetic intertextuality, bewildered dialectic confusion, weathered romance, and existential play, this is a superb production of a classic text that flies in the face of naturalist interpretation - becoming a melancholy and delightful playground for sight, sound, and the frequently goofy, utterly bewildering experience of being alive.
running at the Young Centre (Distillery district) through November