This Saturday night I went to the Gate Theater of Dublin production of Beckett’s two plays, Watt and Endgame, at the Power Center. Now anyone who reads my posts (you are there, aren’t you?) knows how crazy I am about the Power Center. I absolutely love it and every
show that goes on inside of it. Right away I knew the show would be a good one. I also went to The Cripple of Inishmaan last year, another play from Ireland, so I hoped this one would be similarly funny, strange, and existential. It totally was.
Watt tells the story of a drifter of sorts and his brief stay and work at a house. That sounds really general, but that is really all I can say. That’s really what it was about. This one-man show was funny and very well acted. Barry McGovern is a wonderful performer who can pull off incredibly funny and very serious simultaneously. Of course you have to remember that the humor here is very dry and you have to have a taste for it to actually find it funny (think of British humor). The staging is very minimalist, and I felt that the lighting was more of a prop than the chair or hat-rack. The lights seemed to make the stage glow with a warm yellow light. I really enjoyed this reading, though I think it will take some time to understand some of these deeper concepts that Beckett writes about.
Upon returning to our seats, the lights went down once more. This is when I start hearing people whisper, all around me, “I’m so confused. That was so confusing.” It was kind of funny to hear hear everyone struggling. That’s sounds mean, but really they just needed to contemplate for a while and then they would understand. I had been confused too, but I wasn’t stressing over it. I knew I would get it later and that I had to shift focus to the next play.
Endgame, complete with four characters, proved to be even funnier. Only one character was actually capable of moving around, as two were confined to large metal trashcans and the other to an armchair. Clove, the mobile servant, takes orders from the seated man, who becomes increasingly more violent and demanding of Clove. Their lives, if they can be called that, are fallen into routine, but a routine of nothing happening. Clove keeps going back to the windows to look at the world outside and to tell the seated man that nothing has changed. They come to the conclusion that there is only one thing left that can change, and that is dying. One at a time, they start dying off. Until Clove is getting ready to leave forever and the seated protagonist is giving his last monologue, his dying speech. He finishes the story he’s been making up and slowly lifts a veil back over his face. Breaking the fourth wall in the closing sequence of this show is very important. The actors are subtle in commenting on the fact that we are finding joy in their sorrows. It really brought us back to the seriousness and the extreme poverty shown on stage.
I really enjoyed Beckett’s style. It allowed us to watch without the continuous pauses for the audience to stop clapping. The only sound any of us made was when we couldn’t silence our laughter. He also created a world where only the scene on stage existed. Whenever a character would have an idea to change something, like meeting new people, Clove would say “There are no more people.” Nothing except their lives could possible exist on stage, not even as an idea.
It was wonderful, and I don’t want to talk your ear of trying to understand the deeper meanings of the plays, so here is where I get off. I fully endorse the decision to go and see plays from the British Isles. The humor is unique, the actors are brilliant, and the writing is intricate. It is a great experience, and one that we shouldn’t miss when we’re here on campus. Where else can we see stuff like this?
Sending you love and light,
p.s. “Sending you love and light” is a quote from my favorite TV show. If you can figure it out, I’ll give you five points. Or buy you a coffee