By this time of the year, the audience for American Players Theatre productions can be found in one of two camps: Theater lovers who plan to see every production the famed acting company has to offer, and people who want to make sure they see at least one play before season’s end.
If you are in the former group, you will find Samuel Beckett’s "Endgame" a disturbing but meaningful production.
If you are in the latter group, you might better enjoy "Comedy of Errors," "Arcadia" or even “King Lear.”
“Endgame” is brilliantly acted by Brian Mani, David Daniel, John Pribyl and Sarah Day. It is also truly weird and ultimately depressing.
Except that it is also pretty funny, but funny in a way that makes one feel bad for laughing.
Mani is the central character, Hamm. He appears to be paralyzed, confined to a wheeled, reclining chair and his personality is all id. Hamm is imperious, resentful and whining.
Hamm is served by a semi-slave, Clov, played by Daniel, who is lame and who keeps popping in and out of the scene to serve Hamm’s wishes. Clov, who, again, is lame, keeps clambering up a small stepladder and teetering on the top step. The fact he does it often doesn’t make it seem any less dangerous to the audience.
This, incidentally, seems to be a Daniel invention. “You Tube” videos of the play being performed elsewhere don’t have the teetering.
“Endgame” appears to be set in a dying--or even dead--world with the characters hovering between life and death.
Pribyl, who plays the role of Hamm’s father, Nagg, and Day, who plays his mother, Nell, seem to have no legs and to reside in side-by-side ash buckets.
Day, whose role is very minor, may be the star of the show, mostly because she understands that Nell is a fragile and minor character. She demands attention by not demanding attention.
In my opinion, Day, who is completing her 31st year at APT, gets better with every season.
It’s a little hard to tell, but I think everyone dies in the end – or, maybe, they were dead before they started.