U Lab Studio premieres despairing ‘Endgame’

It is the careful attention to the thematic details of life, death and suffering that allows Samuel Beckett to so aptly relate human experiences in his play “Endgame,” directed by Barbara Smith and being performed at the U Lab/Studio 115 theatre this week. The term “Endgame” is oneused in chess to describe the final phase of a match where the outcome is foreknown. Beckett’s play utilizes this idea to explore the inevitability of mortality and the way people deal with the knowledge that everyone they know and love cannot help but die in the end.

The playoffers a look into a world where hope is all but gone, and despair hangs above the lives of its exclusive characters Hamm, Clov, Nagg and Nell.

Hamm is a blind man unable to walk and very dependent on his servant Clov. Much of the play brings into question the future relationship of these two co-dependent beings when the possibility of Clov leaving Hamm is broached, and the characters’ foundations shaken.

Hamm’s parents, Nagg and Nell, pop-up in the show (literally) in ash cans making it impossible for each toconnect with one another-literally and figuratively.

“Endgame” begs the question of when despair will end for each character inthe play-so much so that the characters are terrified by the thought of resurrection or reincarnation. For “Endgame’s” characters, the worst thing that can happen is to have to live through the suffering of existence again.

Very reminiscent of Dante’s “Inferno” with its themes of futility and eternity, “Endgame’s” characters seem to hate their present world, yet paradoxically seem inextricably attached to their own, albeit dismal, existences.

This is a play that will make you think. While it is touted as being “a despairing play about despair,” “Endgame” gives viewers an absurdist look into a world populated by people lost and lonely, struggling to understand and express that which cannot be understood.

Often considered one of Beckett’s best plays (and the author’s personal favorite), rarely will you have a chance to catch a performance as interesting and thought provoking as the Lab’s “Endgame.”

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“Endgame” Performs March 3-6, with a 4:30 p.m. matinee on March 4 and a closing matinee on March 6 at the Performing Arts Building in the Lab Theatre. Tickets are $5 for students, and $7 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased through ArtTix, Kingsbury Hall or the Student Union.