Endgame
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This theatricalized, environmental production, spectacularly designed by Elizabeth Bracken, takes as its motif a kid's birthday-like party, replete with colored lights, favors and little hats for the audience, who sit at ledges with room for a beverage. Hamm, Clov, Nag and Nell, the characters in the actual play, are enclosed in a wagonlike structure with its own walls and curtain, bringing to mind a toy theater or a tainted jewel box.You can see where Halena Kays, a talented conceptual director, is going with this idea: existential angst contrasted with the forced jollity of a juvenile celebration. It's a souped-up version of a teary clown, I suppose, and a way to highlight one of the central concerns of the absurdists: how to go on laughing when we all know we are getting ever closer to the day when we will exit this planet in a time and place not of our choosing. But I'm not sure this heavy concept really serves this play. —Chris Jones