THEATRE REVIEW: Endgame and Rough For Theatre II starring Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Cumming, Jane Horrocks & Karl Johnson

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE? Old Vic RUNTIME: 130 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 28/1/20, press night 5/2, runs to 28/3/20

Samuel Beckett’s bleak Endgame is preceded here by the author’s lighter short Rough For Theatre II in an attempt to sugar the pill for fans of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe (pictured above right) who appears here.

  • Read on for reasons including more about the cast including Alan Cumming and Jane Horrocks

Rough For Theatre II features Radcliffe and co-star Alan Cumming (pictured above left) as clerks arguing over the life of a man who stands between them contemplating suicide on a window ledge.

Director Richard Jones (The Hairy Ape, Old Vic) answers questions for venue members before the show and here he gives us two enclosed box sets which confine their inhabitants in their own worlds.

Rough For Theatre II is certainly brighter than the desolate Endgame and during its 25 minutes it becomes clear that Radcliffe and Cumming have quite the comedy rapport in the same way that we marvelled about the Harry Potter star and Joshua McGuire the last time he performed at this venue.

Very little happens in Endgame and it is a study of co-dependency with Radcliffe’s Clov attending to the every need of Cumming’s wheelchair user Hamm who wears dark glasses.

We’re not quite sure what has happened in the outside world but the only other people we meet in this room are Hamm’s parents (Mum‘s Karl Johnson and Jane Horrocks) who live in dustbins.

Radcliffe gives a very physical appearance and he is visibly sweating as he struggles around the stage performing ever exaggerated errands for his master.

Cumming is always watchable, hugely charismatic and occasionally camp. The cast is uniformly terrific and we were especially impressed by a brief appearance by Horrocks who, in heavy make up, moves extremely slowly as she reminisces with her husband from within a dustbin. It’s a great study of what appears to be acting in slow motion.

Director Jones describes the beauty of a writing as like an orchestra and his cast as musicians bringing an evolving feel to every performance.

We found it an occasionally funny, always interesting yet baffling evening and so, if you struggle with Beckett, this is unlikely to shed new light on his appeal.

However, if you are looking for a lovingly produced and wittily executed piece, this could be just for you.

  • Rehearsal picture via Facebook courtesy Old Vic Theatre. Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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