‘Endgame’ by Samuel Beckett at the Gate – the worst night in the history of theatre

Beckett wrote ‘Endgame’ as an expression of existential angst, despair, the futility and decay of human life. I think he hated his audience. This play was utter art-wank. Boring, incomprehensible and terminally dull, Beckett would have been better off displaying the futility of life had he not written this mess, instead sparing the audience the price of the ticket – not cheap at 41euros. We could have pondered the futility of existence in some snazzy, French wine-bar, listening to jazz instead. The cast and director cannot be blamed for the oozing abomination on the stage – Beckett had cast-iron stage directions meaning that Taymor’s version is the version that Samuel Beckett wanted to inflict on the world. I felt a great sympathy for Robert Sheehan who clearly was trying his best of overcome the bilge he was spouting. I think he could be a good actor had he better material to work with.

It may be controversial to say but I believe Samuel Beckett to have been a bad writer. Pretentious, self-obsessed and beloved of Masters’ theses’ students, he seems to appeal to an audience who want to announce how intelligent and esoteric they are. You could see it in the audience last night – the plummy, loud chuckles from certain audience members at random points. Meanwhile I watched the steady stream of people walking out, from my position near the door. There was no intermission in this play and that was quite deliberate. Imagine being an actor and taking to the stage in Act 2 of your sold out show to rows of empty seats? Soul destroying. I was staying put, until the bitter end. I had paid for this. At the end of the piece the audience clapped politely, but remained firmly seated. Standing ovations mean nothing in Irish theatre in 2022 – they are given out as a thank you for knowing your lines. Far more remarkable, was the audience clapping but remaining seated (with the exception of those fleeing for the doors the second the show ended).

I wonder who plays like this appeal to? Perhaps I have got my bearings completely incorrect and I am the person in the wrong? Maybe Beckett is accessible, and it’s just that I am not clever enough to appreciate his own self-regard. Maybe he deserves his name on that bridge crossing the Liffey? I think not though. I will leave the last word to the woman sitting behind me who spent the entirety of yesterday’s show passing remarks on how awful it was. I was about to turn and ask her to be quiet (even in times of despair, at the theatre, the audience needs to stay quiet) when she muttered ‘what a load of shit’.

Instead I laughed.

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