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Endgame, Greasy Joan & Company, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall. A few weeks ago Splinter Group crowned its Buckets o' Beckett festival with a glorious production of Endgame: it was well cast, expertly directed, and wonderfully performed. Now, as if to prove that Chicago's off-off-Loop theaters never pay attention to what other Chicago theaters are doing and/or never give an iota of thought to audience demand (or perhaps have simply given up on the idea of full houses after opening night), the folks at Greasy Joan have come along with their own version of Endgame.

What a botched version it is. Loud, obvious, utterly lacking in wit, art, and insight, Timothy Banker's staging steamrolls Beckett's dialogue--much of it a refined version of the burlesque-style badinage of Waiting for Godot--turning what should be repartee ("Do you believe in a life to come?" "Mine was always that") into mere chatter. Of the four actors only Karm Kerwell as the blind, bullying Clov seems to understand how to deliver Beckett's dark, wry wit--though he doesn't always succeed. (Kerwell sometimes focuses too much on Clov's arrogance and misses his pain and pathos.) Everyone else is just clueless, rushing madly along, speaking lines too quickly, and missing nearly every joke Beckett makes. Then, when the play turns serious--as when Nagg discovers that Nell has died--they fuck up those moments too.

No wonder the person next to me kept dozing off. I wish I'd had that luxury.

--Jack Helbig

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