Stellar cast, director for Endgame at the Baxter

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Soli Philander, Antoinette Kellerman in Endgame, pic by Oscar O'Ryan
Soli Philander, Antoinette Kellerman in Endgame, pic by Oscar O’Ryan

Samuel Beckett’s incandescent classic Endgame explodes onto the Baxter’s Golden Arrow Studio stage from 8 to 25 August.

The production features a star-studded and multi-award-winning cast and creative team – with Andrew Buckland, Rob van Vuuren, Antoinette Kellerman and Soli Philander, directed by Sylvaine Strike.

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“Nothing makes more sense than to have Samuel Beckett’s brilliant play about senselessness, performed by two ludicrous clowns who are finally joining forces – Andrew Buckland and Rob van Vuuren,” says director Strike. Not forgetting her own sense of the absurd and magic that she cleverly weaves into all her work and which has become her signature of success.

Andrew Buckland, Rob van Vuuren in Endgame, pic by Oscar O'Ryan
Andrew Buckland, Rob van Vuuren in Endgame, pic by Oscar O’Ryan

She continues, “In addition, having two theatre icons, Antoinette Kellerman and Soli Philander play in the supporting roles, is a dream for any director. If, for no other reason than to spend time in the company of these South African theatre greats, performing one of the most extraordinary plays ever written. They will take the audience onto a journey into the dark heart of the post-apocalyptic circus of this play.”

This production brings together the combined talent and expertise of comic and theatrical craftsmen and women in what has been described as one of Beckett’s favourite plays. Buckland plays the role of Hamm, with the inimitable van Vuuren as Clov and veterans Philander and Kellerman as Nagg and Nell. Set and lighting design is by Patrick Curtis and costume design by Birrie le Roux.

Soli Philander, Rob van Vuuren, Andrew Buckland, Antoinetter Kellerman, cast of Endgame, pic by Oscar O'Ryan
Soli Philander, Rob van Vuuren, Andrew Buckland, Antoinetter Kellerman, cast of Endgame, pic by Oscar O’Ryan

Johannesburg-based Sylvaine Strike has become widely respected as a leading director in South African theatre for her fine work that has won her many accolades and awards. Last year she directed Moliere’s Tartuffe to great acclaim and some of her other productions at the Baxter over the years include The Travellers, Black and Blue, The Miser and Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof.

In recent years at the Baxter, Buckland was seen in The Inconvenience of Wings, Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof and Blue/Orange; Van Vuuren performed in A Doll’s House, Life and the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival; Kellerman was seen in As Die Broek Pas, Samsa-Masjien and macbeth.slapeloos and Philander returned to the Baxter stage last year in his own solo show Nice Coat (Lekker Jas).

Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday 13 April 1906. He is described as an avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, poet, and literary translator, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life where he wrote in both English and French. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature with Endgame, Waiting for Godot and Krapps Last Tape being some of his best-known plays which have been, and are still being, performed all over the world today.

Beckett’s work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour, which is why he is considered one of the last modernist writers and one of the key figures in what is called “Theatre of the Absurd”.

Endgame explores, with precisely crafted eloquence, the relationship of master and servant; boss clown and underdog and in some contexts father and son; parent and child. All of these are either delicately or robustly disembowelled with the rhythmical precision evocative of a Magnus Opus. The laughter triggered when watching the play allows its audience to come to terms with the horror and ecstasy of existence, all at once.

In this apparently simple symbiosis lies the intricate complexity of a toxic co-dependency in all its familiar dark hilarity and pain; for at the core of this classic work by Beckett is the desperately funny, heart-breaking interplay between two classic characters of world theatre.

Beckett highlights one theme in particular, that of “finishing” which is presented right in the opening moments, with Clov saying, “Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be finished.” This same theme is later echoed by Hamm. However, what soon becomes clear is that the act of actually finishing, represents the longed-for and dreaded end.

Director Strike explains, “Simply by existing in 2018, we face the possibilities of apocalyptic devastation and simple redemption. There could not be a more appropriate time to delve into the glory and misery of our human existence so concisely captured by Beckett during the horror that echoed through humanity during and after World War 2.”

Endgame is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd and is produced by the Baxter Theatre Centre, in collaboration with Derek Lubner. The limited season runs from 8 to 25 August at 7.30pm nightly, Monday to Saturday, with previews on 8 and 9 August and opening on Friday, 10 August.

Ticket prices range from R120 (for block bookings of 10 or more and for the Early Bird special which is only valid until 31 July, for performances from 7 to 11 July only), to R160 and R180. Booking is through Webtickets or selected Pick n Pay stores.

There is an age restriction of 12 years and parental guidance is advised.

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