The Hypocrites deliver an intriguing Beckett in a box.
The Hypocrites’ staging of Endgame follows closely on the heels of Court Theatre’s Waiting for Godot, notching fine Chicago productions of Beckett’s two most prominent stage works in the first months of 2015. The lead characters in both plays are waiting for an interruption in their dull routines. But if Godot’s Didi and Gogo are hoping for redemption and the promise of new life, Endgame’s Hamm and Clov are seeking simple finality—an ultimate escape from an end that seems to come only in excruciating dribs and drabs.
Director Halena Kays sets the (relative) action of Beckett’s post-apocalyptic-ish narrative within a neatly skewed diorama designed by Elizabeth Bracken, with the audience facing it in rows that somehow mesh the aesthetics of a Copacabana-like nightclub and the U.N. General Assembly hall.
Kays and her cast favor a more clowning interpretation of Beckett’s text, with the indispensable Brian Shaw (somehow just now making his Hypocrites debut) allowing the servant Clov’s physical quirks to underline his absurdly tragic entrapment; Kurt Ehrmann, as Clov’s blind and immobile captor, Hamm, plays up his character’s perverse joviality.
Sean Sinitski and Donna McGough are winningly game as Hamm’s trash-can-bound parents, with McGough’s brief appearance providing the production’s purest pathos. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel confident in my understanding of Endgame. But the Hypocrites’ edition, like those before it, doesn’t fail to leave me happily pondering.
The Hypocrites at the Den Theatre. By Samuel Beckett. Directed by Halena Kays. With Kurt Ehrmann, Brian Shaw, Sean Sinitski, Donna McGough. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission.