Yet, the appearance of a work of art changes according to our distance from what is depicted. A college student can intellectually enjoy Beckett’s vision of the decaying effects of time in his portrayal of the oppressed, blind and disabled man’s ham (played by tasteful splenetic cumming) and his annoying matriarch Clove (Radcliffe). Although it takes a few decades older to fully appreciate the ruthless abolition of life with a front-row view of its end.
Likewise, watching “Endgame” in this incarnation, I got a fragile new trend by depicting a blind, blasted world outside the (barely) artificial room that hams, cloves, nugs and nails live in virtual captivity. When Ham says, “Nature has forgotten us,” and Clove responds, “There is no more nature,” it does not register it as a tragic projection of sickness and old age on everything in charge, it is a weather report tomorrow.
Clove has been able to make this ruthless assessment because unlike Ham, he still has a vision, though he is failing fast. He is regularly bid to peer through the telescope outside the window (where what he sees is described as “zero, zero and zero”). The windows are very, very high, which means Clove has to use a ladder to reach them.
Instead, Radcliffe allows most of the most difficult business of climbing a ladder up a ladder. Any kind of movement is a perfect proposition for Clove, and every act of Radcliffe locomotion in highly disciplined physical performances turns it into a sesifican dance. Walking, for example, is not a matter of keeping one foot in front of the other, unable to bend, turning into a crab-like shake.
This process is extremely painful to watch. This is the reason why this production is finally disappointing. In every movement of the Clove – and the energy that Ham’s vicious tirade has spent – testifies to the fact that there is life there, there is, well, life.
No matter how futile the fight for survival is, Beckett always enjoys the very truth of that fight. For him, theater – with its greater emphasis on words and gestures – became the ideal temple for this national celebration.
Jones’ productions emphasize drama and especially vaudeville in the production of Jones, designed by Stuart Laing (set and costume) and Adam Silverman (lighting). So do Cummings and Radcliffe, who seem to be spending the endless tribulations of their lives in acting their characters. If they are light, they bring this national charge to the screen-raising “Rough for Theater II”, so that they depict two heavenly (or hell) appraisers with a list of the existence of a person about suicide.