Endgame was written in French in 1957. Hamm, who is blind and unable to walk, and Clov, Hamm’s servant, occupy ‘a bare interior’. Nagg and Nell, Hamm’s parents, are in dustbins in a corner, and sometimes pop up to talk. Clov looks out of the two small windows with a telescope. The world outside seems dead and grey. Daily rituals are performed ad nauseam. ‘Why this farce, day after day?’ asks Nell. Hamm and Clov have both ‘had enough’. They repeatedly discuss whether or not Clov will leave, and why he stays. Hamm asks Clov to kill him, but he won’t. However, Nell dies. Finally, Clov says he’s leaving once again and returns ‘dressed for the road’, but he stands watching Hamm until the curtain falls.
You prayed …
[Pause. He corrects himself.] You CRIED for night; it comes…
[Pause. He corrects himself.] It FALLS: now cry in darkness.
[ He repeats, chanting.] You cried for night; it falls: now cry in darkness.
[Pause.] Nicely put, that.
– Hamm, Endgame
Dublin-born writer and director Conor McPherson has written several highly acclaimed plays including St Nicholas and the multiple-award-winning The Weir, commissioned by and staged at the Royal Court Theatre. This production earned him the Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. In 1999 The Weir won Best Play at the Olivier Awards. In 1996 Conor wrote the script for I Went Down for Treasure Films/BBC films, produced by Robert Walpole and directed by Paddy Breathnach. In 1999, he wrote and directed Saltwater, a film adaptation of his playThis Lime Tree Bower.
‘Hopefully, the film will demystify Beckett’s reputation for being hard going. I just wanted to make sure it was funny, because, if it was funny, it could be understood. It’s a comedy, a bittersweet comedy.’
– Conor McPherson
Michael Gambon (Hamm) was one of the original members of the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic under Laurence Olivier. He then went on to work in many major theatre productions, including the premières of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal and Mountain Language. In 1995 he won the Evening Standard‘s Best Actor Award for his performance in The Life of Galileo and Volpone. His many films include Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, his Wife and Her Lover, and most recently The Gambler, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Last September and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.
The film credits of David Thewlis (Clov) include Paul McGuigan’sGangster No1, the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, David Caffrey’sDivorcing Jack, Jean Jacques Anaud’s Seven Years in Tibet, and Mike Leigh’s Naked and Life is Sweet, among others. His theatre credits include The Sea at the National Theatre and Ice Cream at the Royal Court. He has also worked extensively in television including in LWT’sDandelion Dead and the BBC’s Singing Detective and Skulduggery.
Charles Simon (Nagg) has worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio. His film and television credits include Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy, Sir Richard Attenborough’s Shadowlands and the BBC’s Blind Justice, Wives and Daughters, and The Singing Detective. He has also made guest appearances in many television series including Father Ted, London’s Burning, and A Touch of Frost.
Jean Anderson (Nell) has had a long and distinguished career in the theatre. Her theatre credits include Variations on a Theme at the Globe, Spring Awakening at the Royal Court and the Royal Shakespeare’s Charley’s Aunt, among many others. She has also worked extensively in television and film.