TO say the plays of Samuel Beckett are off-the-wall is a bit like saying Donald Trump sometimes rubs people up the wrong way.
Endgame, currently playing at HOME in Manchester, is no exception. It focusses on the bizarre relationship between master and servant and brings together Coronation Street stars David Nielson and Chris Gascoyne.as Hamm and his cruelly put upon lackey, Clov.
On stage these two are a revelation and the soap roles that shot them to national fame never cross your mind. Hamm is demanding, dramatic, disgusting, a sort of male Miss Havisham whose given up on life and spends his days inflicting mental torture on poor Clov.
This play could and nearly did drive me mad trying to work out what was going on. Hamm's aged parents live Top Cat style in two rubbish bins - wonderfully played by Peter Kelly and Barbara Rafferty. A metaphor for the way society treats the elderly, perhaps. Despite being totally bemusing in places, I am completely in awe of the way Beckett uses language, painting the most evocative of images inside the audience's head.
That said, the writing is very accessible.
Without wishing to sound snobbish, I'll have to say Endgame isn't for those who like their theatre to cow tow to convention but for me it's HOME's best production to date. The setting is uncompromising in its bleakness, with the entire action taking place in a room that has all the appeal of a run down public toilet, but the acting is first rate.
* Until March 12. Star rating - ***