Endgame, Everyman, Liverpool

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The Independent Culture

A play without a beginning and a middle, Endgame, Beckett's prolonged preparation for oblivion, conceals as subtle a series of moves as any chess game. In this new production by Liverpool's thrillingly revitalised Everyman, a highlight of its celebratory season of European drama, this depiction of the end of everything is scarcely played as a comedy, but it does have its lighter moments.

Played out on a gloomy, grey, set of disintegrating emptiness, a blank canvas conveying lonely desolation, it is given a perceptive and vividly characterised production by Lucy Pitman-Wallace. Matthew Kelly takes the central role of Hamm the tyrannical "king", with his son Matthew Rixon as the pawn-like slave or son, Clov.

Kelly's self-centred, blind Hamm, confined to a wheelchair centre-stage, rages and wheedles, commands and cajoles, his violent shouting sometimes as inaudible as his whisper, his gravelly voice compelling in its imperious tone. Rixon's Clov, painful in his muted and yet not so subservient servility, catches the humour of the darkness, the flashes of surreal extremity. The two men's empathy makes the dialogue between them glitter dangerously..

Endgame to 3 May (0151 709 4776)