Thursday, January 04, 2007

what the papers had to say

These are links to media articles about Ends and Beginnings.

Pragya Tiwari had an excellent review in the Mumbai Mirror, which is not online. I will scan and post in online one of these days.

UPDATE: I've added Pragya Tiwari's review at the end of this post. Scroll down to see the review.

The Mumbai Theatre Guide's list of Thespo 8 winners
Lists winners in all categories, with short bios.

The Mid-Day theatre review, which referred to Ends and Beginnings
A flattering mention.

An excerpt:
As expected Ends and Beginnings (based on Samuel Beckett’s Endgame) directed by Vivek Narayan, swept the Thespo 8 awards nite in the city over the weekend.

This annual youth theatre festival of Mumbai’s Q Theatre Productions had Beckett’s comedy about the absurdity of modern life, a clear-cut winner. It bagged awards for its actors — Niharika Negi, Siddharth Kumar and Warren D’Sylva — besides the best director and best play honours.

Nadir Khan's perceptive comments on Ends and Beginnings
Something to think about, most definitely.

The Mumbai Theatre Guide review, which paid a lot of attention to Ends and Beginnings
A scathing review.

A choice excerpt:
The last play of the festival bagged almost all the awards. ENDS & BEGINNINGS based on Samuel Beckett’s ENDGAME won awards for the Best Supporting Male and Female actors, for Best Actor, Best Direction, Best Production Design and for the Best Play too. So was it really that great? While the play itself can verily classify itself as literature of the highest quality, the production directed by Vivek Narayan was just about ok. Stretch the definition of ok and you could end up with platitudes like nice and good.

Here's the complete review by Pragya Tiwari, received by mail.

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (directed by Vivek Narayan as Ends And Beginnings) was the concluding play at Thespo 8 and swept all the awards in a pop cultural awards night that followed. Nearly 50 years ago when the play had opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London it had been panned by the majority of critics for its drastic defiance of the mainstream. Ironies such as these, mundane and bittersweet, inspired this master playwright to fashion plays that have stood the test of time and are yet not past their prime.

Beckett recreates the ordinary world in the most extraordinary way. In a bare interior four people, Hamm, his parents Nell and Nagg and his servant Clov, live out their lives. With the exception of Nell who is beyond caring, everyone is waiting for something but besides Nell’s apparent death two-thirds way through, nothing happens in the play. The structure is as different as can be from the mainstream well-made plays and so tenuous it could fall apart if not for the consistency in dialogue and characterization. The dialogue is representative of pointless everyday conversations but suffused with Beckett-ian wit and humor. It is marked with twisted clich├ęs like “if age but knew”, literary allusions to Shakespeare and Descartes and when the script demands it rises from coarseness to great beauty. The characters are consistent with the static and potentially explosive nature of the play. Each one is hopeless and crippled. Each one dislikes the other. The bare interior with its dustbins and dust sheets is barely warding off the decay outside. The audience like Hamm who is blind has to rely on Clov’s descriptions of what lies outside. This has a claustrophobic effect essential for the play’s impact.

It may be difficult to describe the play’s structure but it is impossible to paraphrase its meaning. Hamm can be a decrepit king, the last survivor of a nuclear war dying of radiation or an ordinary man arrogant and frail, cruel and tender who bemoans that life is a pointless farce and fears what lies beyond. Beckett’s plays do not exhaust their meaning by making succinct points. They may not reveal distinct symbols which open into airy zones of clear and comforting thesis but are symbols in themselves- ambiguous and poetic. Endgame is a symbol of the theatre. It mocks the audience, contemplates its structure and meaning and constantly refers to itself. It is also the symbol of an ill-fated one sided game between a man and his stars. It is the symbol of the end which marks every beginning. It distills the painful experiences of the years of war and the cold war in which Beckett conceived and wrote his plays. But dark and cruel as they appear on first acquaintance, their inherent humanity surfaces slowly but surely.

The production was crisp, lucid and faithful to Beckett’s instructions and design. The stage may not have been bathed with “grey light” and the picture with its face to the wall may have been missing, but the essence of dilapidation, imprisonment and a last weathering refuge were recreated successfully. Warren D’ Sylva as Hamm managed a consistency in his characterization. He internalized the impending doom of the character well but lacked the kind of flourish that made Hamm Richard-esque and kingly. Sidhdharth Kumar as Clov had good timing but not enough range. It was evident that the cast and crew had made sincere efforts to explore the text and its context thoroughly but it was also evident that every award they won was for Beckett.

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