Languishing between life and death, the chair-bound tyrant Hamm (David Neilson, best known as Coronation Street‘s Roy Cropper) and his dutiful but resentful companion Clov (Chris Gascoyne, Coronation Street‘s Peter Barlow) are irrevocably bound to one another.
They pass their days in a filthy, bare room, caught in a loop of futile routines. Their endless and brutal verbal jousting match is punctured only by the nostalgic reminiscing of Hamm’s parents, reduced to living in rubbish bins.
A classic of modern theatre, Beckett’s absurd and macabre play makes a grim joke of life, and finds laughter in the darkness.
“Hopefully me and David, having been in Coronation Street, will bring in an audience who have maybe never been to the theatre,” Chris Gascoyne told The Guardian. “They may run out screaming and want their money back. But we shouldn’t underestimate people. Beckett is for everybody. He isn’t middle-class, highbrow theatre. He’s just not.”
★★★★ “It’s nobody’s idea of an easy night out, but it hits home with nihilistic force.” – The Guardian
★★★★ “Neilson and Gascoyne prove adept at physical comedy, creating recurring motifs for their characters that bring vitality to the stage and rise above Beckett’s stringent stage directions… Neilson and Gascoyne offer glimpses of the deeper emotions and motivations that have kept these two together.” – The Times (behind paywall)
★★★★ “Neilson delivers a powerful performance as the snarling, chair-bound, manipulative Hamm. Gascoyne also triumphs as his dutiful servant Clov… This fine ensemble production certainly deserves its warm reception. skilfully directed by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill.” – Manchester Evening News
★★★★★ “A superlative revival… impeccably staged. On the strength of his exceptional, tour-de-force performance as the tyrannical Hamm [David Neilson] proves himself not only a highly accomplished stage performer but a master of Beckett. Chris Gascoyne is equally as impressive. The highly experienced and ever reliable Peter Kelly and Barbara Rafferty complete the quartet. Very moving, enthralling. Captivating… it is difficult to know how it could be bettered.” – The Arts Shelf
★★★★★ “What shines is the work: the writing, direction, design and, above all in this production, the performances. David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne, well known from Coronation Street, give superb performances… This is a really welcome production. More please.” – Manchester Confidential
“Dominic Hill’s finely detailed production brings out every nuance of Beckett’s script, with every line and move carefully crafted and unrushed to make its significance clear… Uplifting and often funny in its portrayal of human behaviour… This compelling production shows that Beckett was not writing in an artistic vacuum but was portraying real life in his own unique way.” – British Theatre Guide
“From the very moment the play started, I knew I was watching something special. David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne [were both] absolutely superb. They were more than ably assisted in their efforts by Peter Kelly as Nagg and Barbara Rafferty as Nell. Masterfully directed by Dominic Hill, this is a must-see production.” – North West End
“David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne are terrific… Tom Piper’s excellent design creates an apocalyptic world confined to a small, cold room and director Dominic Hill’s light touch allows the two actors the freedom to immerse themselves in Beckett’s astonishing words.” – Morning Star
★★★★ “Dominic Hill utilises the chemistry that [David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne] share and elicits fine performances from each of them. These are not soap actors attempting Beckett; they know the text and they live it. This is what actors of their calibre train for and they give superb turns.” – Canal Street
“The quality of performances is high… Endgame offers a challenging viewing alternative to the more everyday bleakness of the Coronation Street cobbles.” – The Reviews Hub
★★★★ “Director Dominic Hill brings out every bit of detail in the script, finding new subtlety and absolute meaning in the bleak and absurd world that the characters inhabit. Compelling… Chris Gascoyne’s timing and physicality as Clov is superb; David Neilson is brilliant as Hamm, intelligent and matter-of-fact. Nothing is rushed here and every word is loaded with meaning.” – Upstaged Manchester
“[Samuel] Beckett’s place in the theatrical canon is patently deserved – and the acting and direction here are pretty top-notch too… David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne are very good indeed, Peter Kelly and Barbara Rafferty as Nagg and Nell give strong performances too. Well worth seeing: it’s a masterclass in precision and control.” – Bouquets and Brickbats
“This is a very satisfying production of one of Beckett’s key plays… Everything about this production bespeaks quality.” – Jildy Sauce
“This production directed by Dominic Hill is executed excellently… [David] Neilson is outstanding as Hamm, Gascoyne is a natural comedian… Hill’s adaptation of the play is fresh, funny and highly thoughtful.” – Sincerely Amy
“David Neilson obviously relishes the role of Hamm, which is a world away from the part of Roy Cropper, which he plays in Coronation Street. Chris Gascoyne shows a great talent for physical acting, in the way he conveys both comedy and despondency by limping around the stage as if he was wearing a ball and chain… There are few writers who could could hold our attention without using traditional theatrical tools such as scene changes and plot twists.” – Weekend Notes
“It might be the only time you see these two actors together in this setting, although I have a suspicion that with [Chris] Gascoyne and [David] Nielson’s shared interest in this type of storytelling, they might team up again sometime in the future. And they should.”It’s 90 minutes that combine comedy, intricate dialogue, clever physical performances and the realisation that you have so many questions when you leave.” – Coronation Street blog
“Each of the elements of this play work in their own right. The direction, the set, the lighting, the sound, all impressive, although of course Beckett has always been highly prescriptive.- Quiet Man Dave
“There is humour of the blackest kind and musicality to phrases that shape and acknowledge the recognisably play-like events unfolding on stage. To make any of this possible requires actors of the highest calibre. Fortunately this production has an excellent cast that does justice to this tough text.” – Manchester Salon
“It’s wonderful to watch… David Neilson, plays Hamm with a compelling and unsettling note of hysteria; Chris Gascogyne is a similarly wonderful Clov… I’ve never seen an audience laugh so much at a Beckett play.” – The Manchester Review
“David Nielson and Chris Gascoyne are a revelation… The acting is first-rate.” – Stagestruck
“David Neilson [is] amusing and imperious… Chris Gascoyne as Clov is really interesting, with a strong take on how to perform the part. This feels like a very serviceable museum piece. Lovingly restored.” – Postcards From the Gods
“An intense, breath-taking emancipation of Beckett’s genius… The combination of first class acting, dark yet relatable humour, and an ending that will leave an audience stunned to silence, it is certainly not one to miss.” – Quays News
“If you are a fan of Samuel Beckett’s absurd and, often, macabre tragi-comedies and are looking for a fix, then get yourself along to HOME… [David] Neilson is brilliant as the near-death dictator figure, Hamm; Chris Gascoyne’s Clov is funny and tragic all at the same time, [his] slapstick skills often making the audience roar with laughter.” – Humanity Hallows
“The performances are excellent… David Neilson is an excellent Hamm; his Corrie co-star Chris Gascoyne has wit sparkling through his sneers… With a cast that never lose their focus, it’s definitely possible to taste the hints of comic brilliance that bubble through Beckett’s existentialist fog.” – Plays To See
“[David] Nielson and [Chris] Gascoyne really elevated the lighter moments in Beckett’s often morbid script… Other moments of light relief came from the humorous appearances of Hamm’s parents, Nagg and Nell, played wonderfully by Peter Kelly and Barbara Rafferty.” – Mancunion
“A strong cast offers excellent performances, as both Chris Gascoyne (Clov) and David Neilson (Hamm) revel in their characters’ melodramatic bickering… Neilson provides a series of striking moments through Hamm’s monologue, and Gascoyne makes the most of the physical slapstick.” – The Stage
Not sure if Endgame is for you? Have a listen to what people have thought of the show so far…
After the performance on Thu 3 Mar, join us for a post show talk with members of the cast and Dr Daniela Caselli and Professor Ursula Tidd from the University of Manchester.
Presented in association with CIDRAL, University of Manchester.