REVIEW: Samuel Beckett's Endgame at The Gate Theatre

By Katy Thornton

February 24, 2022 at 11:15am

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Samuel Beckett's post-apocalyptic play Endgame is currently showing for the next four weeks at The Gate Theatre. As an avid Beckett fan, I had to go along to see it.

Before Marvel's Endgame, there was Beckett's. Comedian Frankie Boyle makes his stage debut as Hamm in this Danya Tamor directed performance. Robert Sheehan (Umbrella Academy) plays Clov, playwright and actor Gina Moxley plays Nell, and Sean McGinley (The Wind That Shakes The Barley) plays Nagg. The Gate Theatre is showing the play until the end of March.

Why you should go? 

Samuel Beckett is one of Ireland's most famous playwrights - we've named a bridge after him after all. While Waiting For Godot is arguably his most famous work, Endgame achieves the same level of absurdity, depicting a post-apocalyptic landscape where four characters try and fail to maintain meaning and laughter. If you're a big literary head, want to support the arts, or just want to see Robert Sheehan in real life, you should make a trip to go.

Set the scene

It was rather surreal sitting in an almost full Gate Theatre last Thursday. Even one of the staff members made a point of saying so, after two difficult years for the theatre and the arts, what a sight it was to have a full crowd in the seats. The stage was bare, two windows on either side which Clov regularly checks for signs of life. Hamm sits in an armchair with wheels, a bloodied sheet covering his face. Besides this, there's only two tin bins sitting on the left corner, where Nagg and Nell will spring from eventually. There's little sound effects during the play, but as the curtains are pulled back it sounds like you can hear the seaside.

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The backstory

Samuel Beckett released Endgame in 1957 and the play certainly has post-World War II symbols. He's not exactly the most didactic playwright, but the world was in the throws of the Cold War by this point, and certain aspects of the play almost seem to suggest what the climax of that war could lead to. The play is kind of plotless, which is typical for Beckett, but it's emotionally poignant where every peal of laughter is made feel dirty by the tragic butt of the joke.

The highlight

Robert Sheehan. No, in all seriousness, the whole cast is incredible, but there's something tickling about having Robert Sheehan on stage so close to you after seeing him in the likes of Umbrella Academy. As a huge fan of Misfits, particularly the first two seasons, seeing Robert Sheehan in the flesh was just top notch. Frankie Boyle was also fantastic as Hamm, an incredible performance given his limited acting experience.

Accessibility

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There is lift access towards the rear of the theatre - you can read all about it HERE. The front of house team can also assist in getting you your tickets if needs be.

Anything else?

The show is 100 minutes long (this flew by for me) and there's no interval, so a visit to the toilets is essential on arrival, particularly if you decide to avail of the bar. The toilets are small, so there might be a bit of a queue.

How long is it showing for?

Endgame runs until the 26th March, so plenty of time to get in to see it.

Where is it again?

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The Gate Theatre on Cavendish Row, Parnell Square.

Prices from?

Tickets start at €15 per person.

Overall Thoughts (Slight spoiler ahead) (You've been warned)

As a lover of Beckett, I was delighted to witness this performance. Being an English student, while I've studied many of the plays (I actually wrote about Endgame for my Undergraduate dissertation) I've never seen one of Beckett's in person, only through YouTube clips. My first experience of Beckett on stage was no disappointment - even in what can only be described as a tragedy, the four cast members managed to incite laughter throughout the performance, proving Nell's point that "nothing is funnier than unhappiness". However, all these funny moments were dramatically forgotten in the final moments when Hamm calls out to Clov and his father, only to have silence ring back at him.

If you love the theatre, I highly recommend catching this show before it's gone.

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Header image via Instagram/gatetheatre_dublin

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