Samuel Beckett's Endgameis an inside joke of a play—something that those who know it and its idiosyncratic creator can proudly brandish; but which for the rest of us amounts to a yawn-inducing trifle. It is ritualistic, poetic and masterfully crafted, but with a negligible plot, scant character development and little to no dramatic action. This makes it, if not anti-theater, the kind of stuff that is hard for members of any audience to digest.
This Rude Guerrilla production won't change anyone's mind. Director Michael David Fox's version is faithful enough visually to satisfy Beckett purists—the set and lighting are sparse and spooky, and most of the cast gets Beckett and his rhythms. But anyone not willing to dig deeper into the fascinating matrix of existential, literary and slapstick ideas that fuel its action will be left like the kid I saw sitting in the front row: far more interested in playing solo rock-paper-scissors than in engaging with the play.
And when you're getting yelled at, why try to understand? Arturo Jones, as the blind, chair-bound patriarch Hamm, is constantly screaming—and by playing Hamm as a shrieking, bullying asshole, Jones robs him of his capacity for tragic isolation. That, coupled with a rather busy Sunday afternoon in the space the theater occupies—were those really peg-legged pirates square-dancing on the floor above?—made for a long 100 minutes. Endgame must be heard as well as seen, which was difficult at best.
SAMUEL BECKETT'S ENDGAME AT EMPIRE THEATRE, 202 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, (714) 547-4688. FRI.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2:30 P.M. THROUGH MAY 20. $10-$18.
She left her brain for scientists to explore, but those who try to understand the human condition might have been as well-served by examining her heart, which was huge. Laura Marchant, a longtime and luminous figure in local theater, died April 29 after a nearly three-year battle with brain cancer.
A Cal State Long Beach alumna and founding member of Loud*R*Mouth Theatre Company, Marchant was an actor, a director and, above all else, a huge champion of local theater. Her plays were always more than mere entertainments, whether she was setting Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dreamin the Louisiana swamps during Reconstruction or being one of the first local theater artists to understand and appreciate the power of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues.
Marchant cared deeply about the possibilities of theater and the potentialities of people, and her loss diminishes us all. (JB)
A MEMORIAL FOR LAURA MARCHANT WILL BE HELD AT CAL STATELONG BEACH'S STUDIO THEATRE IN EARLY JUNE.