Gordon Edelstein loves Endgame. There is no other way to put it. He talks about the play with profound insight. Always passionate about the theatre, his enthusiasm reaches new heights when he talks about this particular play, one of the most profound works of 20th century theatrical art.
“I have done most of Beckett and this is the play I’ve wanted to do my entire life,” he said at the first rehearsal of the piece. “I promised myself I wouldn’t do until I had the actors who could really do it.”
There is no question he has that now. Gifted performers Brian Dennehy (Hamm) and Reg E. Cathey (Clov) are the duo at the heart of the play, with Joe Grifasi and Lynn Cohen lending able and nuanced support as Hamm’s parents, Nagg and Nell.
Despite his love for the work, Edelstein is a realist. Even a cursory glance at the critical literature about Beckett will show ambivalence. Audiences and critics were both confounded by his work. But scholars as noteworthy as Harold Bloom saw the depth and complexity of Beckett’s tragic and humorous worldview, and over time Beckett drew passionate admirers across the world. Long Wharf Theatre audiences were taken by Dennehy’s tragically beautiful portrayal of Krapp in Krapp’s Last Tape several seasons back. “People are afraid of Beckett. He’s a writer of formidable intellect and some cases formidable impenetrability. But, I just don’t see that,” Edelstein said.
The story is relatively simple. A man and his friend are trapped after a catastrophic event. Their relationship is complicated, to say the least. The play chronicles that relationship. It’s a play about facing death, co-dependency, survival, friendship, parenting – it’s about most things in life, Edelstein explained.
“It is my commitment to share my deep love of this play with the audience. We do that by communicating the play in an accessible, and dare I say, entertaining way,” Edelstein said. “Our job as artists is to remove the tension between the audience and the play.”