STC Endgame Night With The Actors Post-Performance Discussion; New Reviews

Here’s the “Twitter transcript” of Sydney Theatre Company’s first Night With The Actors event on 13 April. Cast members Hugo Weaving, Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence sat for a Q & A session following that evening’s performance.

And here are quotes from reviews that have appeared since my last entry. They continue to be uniformly ecstatic. As always, I recommend clicking the links for the full texts at sites of origin, particularly if you want more background about the play. Since no new performance photos have appeared (you can see the full batch of Lisa Tomasetti’s photos that have been posted in reviews here) I’ll intersperse some fan photos.

Jo Litson, Sunday Telegraph and jolitson.com: “The Beckett Estate is famously rigid, requiring productions to stick to the letter of Beckett’s very specific stage directions. Upton and set designer Nick Schlieper have come up with an imposing, monumental staging that abides more or less faithfully with Beckett’s requirements but makes for a far more threatening space than a bare, grey-lit room…

Weaving is in masterful form as Hamm. Legs tied and wearing opaque glasses, his face and arms, and even his tongue at one point, are wonderfully expressive but it’s his extraordinarily eloquent voice that mesmerises, so full of different textures, tones and sounds: velvety one minute, snarling the next. His Hamm is a tyrant but with a jaunty, fruity presence and a wry sense of humour. It’s a compelling performance.

Budge’s performance is all about body language. Bent-over, he performs with a robustly comical physicality. The way he removes the sheet covering Hamm, or climbs the ladder, or interacts with Hamm, suggests well-oiled routines he has developed over time to fill the endless, empty days, while his attempt to get rid of a flea in his pants is priceless…

Endgame is almost unbearably bleak but at the same time surprisingly funny. Upton and his fine cast find that balance perfectly in an engrossing, lively, moving production.”


“Very excited to see Endgame at the Sydney Theatre Company!…” Sophie Morgan via Instagram

Catherine McNamara, Concrete Playground: “Andrew Upton’s Endgame is beautiful Beckett. Inasmuch as it invites us to wallow in the great fear and inertia of existence for 110 minutes, till we’re asking (along with main character Hamm), ‘Is it not time for my pain killer?’… In my mind, the true wonder of Endgame is the humour that punctuates the pain. The misery is a given, the moments of light and childish hope are the miracle…

Even if revelling in the cyclical despair of the universe isn’t your thing, see Endgame for the sheer display of vocal and physical prowess of the actors. Hugo Weaving as Hamm is immobile from the shoulders down but brings his character to life with wild acrobatics of the voice and face. It is beautiful to hear a master actor tasting language, as if he has forgotten how words are supposed to work, so syllables surprise and fly out unmeasured. He nails the harshness and fragility of Hamm, his constant contradictions and reneging…

Endgame pokes fun at the ‘game of theatre’, with its eternal status struggles and fabrications of time and space. At times Weaving assumes the role of the brooding poet, sending up the agony of creative genius. He evaluates his own monologues and frets the passing of time. He sits, in a weathered throne, in a forgotten castle, in the depths of the earth. A tyrant of emptiness; his kingdom an immense void…

It is worth going along just to see these wonderful actors present a theatre-changing text. In every corner of this uneventful endgame is a comment on life and society. Beckett’s text is quick, captivating and efficient. And at the ‘end’ he’s having the laugh on us. We’re accustomed to momentous things happening in the theatre, but in this world, if you’re crying, you’re still alive.


“Thank you STC for ticking another Beckett play off my bucket list. Brilliant. Superb. I am in awe.” Rachael Belle Myers via Twitter/Instagram

Larry Heath, The AU Review: “Directed by Andrew Upton, who also directed Godot with Weaving, has done a fine job of bringing Beckett’s well known text to live. The set design by Nick Schlieper is exquisite: the sense that they are deep in the basement of a castle-like structure is well achieved – the building seems to go on forever, while the all important windows on either side give the sense of the nothingness that apparently exists beyond those walls…

Weaving’s performance is astonishing and he holds the show together – just as the role requires of him. Given he is confined to a rolling chair, the range (and tongue) he’s able to convey just reaffirms how great of an actor he is. There’s not a moment that goes by in the one act play – which comes in to just under two hours – that you’re not compelled by his performance. And that’s down to, almost solely, his voice. As he jumps between philosopher, psycophant and borderline psychopath, his Hamm is theatrical brilliance. Costume Designer Renée Mulder has done a great job at adding to Hamm’s eccentricities, and with Hugo as Associate Director of the production, he would have added more than enough of his own take on Hamm’s situation to truly embody this typically absurd character…

Endgame in its very nature is a dark tale, with the cruelty of Hamm’s character and the rather depressing state of his bin-dwelling parents (pictured above) serving to create an overarching sense of despair to the whole affair. But Upton, Weaving and the cast have done well to balance that with slapstick, typical absurdist humour and performances which seem just over-the-top enough to keep the element of fantasy in the air, while never limiting the power or effect of any scene. A tightrope they walk with skill and care… Endgame in its very nature is a dark tale, with the cruelty of Hamm’s character and the rather depressing state of his bin-dwelling parents (pictured above) serving to create an overarching sense of despair to the whole affair. But Upton, Weaving and the cast have done well to balance that with slapstick, typical absurdist humour and performances which seem just over-the-top enough to keep the element of fantasy in the air, while never limiting the power or effect of any scene. A tightrope they walk with skill and care.”


STC’s posters for the production   Photos: Yvette Wan via Twitter

Ian Dickson, Australian Book Review: “Hamm is often played as a bullying, tormenting and tormented despot, but that is only a part of him. Weaving’s Hamm is wonderfully fantastical. Denied the use of his eyes and legs, he makes the most of his arms, hands, and marvellously expressive fingers, stabbing the air with them or fluttering them like the ripples on a lake. Even his tongue gets a moment in the spotlight. But it is the glorious Weaving voice that truly commands the stage. From sonorous boom to almost whisper, he coaxes every ounce of poetry from the text without ever seeming ‘poetic’. He initiates the often played routines sometimes with relish and at others almost in spite of himself. At the few moments when the anguish that he tries to keep at bay surfaces, he is shattering. This is a great performance and a pinnacle of Weaving’s distinguished career…

If Tom Budge’s Clov is an Ariel figure he is a grotesque misshapen one. Surprisingly eschewing the stiff staggering walk Beckett specifies in the script, Budge skitters around the stage like a hunched over Nosferatu. Less bitter than most Clovs, there is an innocence about him which Weaving’s Hamm gleefully exploits, but when he does erupt he is momentarily formidable. He expertly juggles the huge ladder which he uses to peer out of the high windows, and his routine with the flea powder he uses on himself is a splendid piece of clowning…

An artist for whom the verbs to create and to fail were synonymous, Beckett was surprisingly positive about the original French version of the piece and it remained a favorite work for the rest of his life. This production does him proud… Now messrs Upton and Weaving, can we have Krapp’s Last Tape please?”


STC virtual banner ad, featuring James Green promo portrait of Hugo

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