Theater: Jacques Osinski’s “End of the game” cover illuminates our humanity in disarray


“It’s over, it’s over, it’ll be over, it might be over.” » It is with this amusing iterative retort that it begins end of the game, a famous play by the famous Irish author (but French by adoption) Samuel Beckett. To (re)discover today in Jacques Osinski’s staging both his dialogues, deceptively absurd and decidedly disconcerting, are here loaded with ecological resonances that make you laugh as much as they send shivers down your spine… the climate crisis helping .

Setting: On stage, Beckett invents the master-slave relationship between two disabled people, probably survivors of some thermonuclear apocalypse. One (named Hamm, played by Frédéric Leidgens) appears pinned to the chair and blindfolded throughout the performance. He declares: “Nature has forgotten us. » In order to survive, without concession, he bullies his submissive and lame partner, Clov (played by Denis Lavant). The latter carries a bulky scale and an insecticide because it is terribly itchy. “There is no more nature”answer to his tyrant.

Behind the windows of what appears to be his home, one can guess a lifeless world, burned, sunken, breathless forever. Worse, Beckett tells her two bugs that they have no more cookies or tranquilizers left. Yes, the end is near. But time is very long and the vertigo, abysmal… Then emerge, from the bottom of two large garbage containers, two more characters, older, more symmetrical but equally inseparable. They are Nell and Nagg (Claudine Delvaux and Peter Bonke), Hamm’s parents. This surreal vision itself, by turns black and comic, stimulating the imagination with a thousand absurd possibilities and as many plausible aberrations, was conceived with the precision of a painter by Samuel Beckett.

A tragic and burlesque duet formed by Denis Lavant and Jacques Leidgens

In 1957, Roger Blin created the piece for the first time in the presence of Beckett, with whom he was close. It is a revolution in the theater that then opens up to the absurd, even if Beckett, a former resister marked by the disasters of the Second World War, has never claimed this name. Closer to home, it was the duos formed by Michel Bouquet and Rufus in 1996, by Serge Merlin and Gilles Privat in 2013, who gave it its touch of madness. Today, the eminently tragic and burlesque duet formed by Denis Lavant and Jacques Leidgens seems all the more exceptional as these two great servants of contemporary theater are staged by Jaques Osinski, another goldsmith of the genre. “ Beckett, he warns it takes aliens to play it. »

It was with him that Denis Lavant rode for the first time Towards the worst in 2017, a singular text where Beckett talks about the impossibility of saying, of formulating. A whole program! In 2019, they continue with The last bandwhose soliloquy is that of a lonely man talking to himself using his own recordings… “These two experiences gave me keys to read and interpret It’s game over, Osinski says. Approaching it, at first, scared me because in this theater there is a kind of requirement to respect a tradition, as well as the text and all its stage directions. »

These indications of play, numerous and precise in Beckett, are imposed in end of the game many breaks Osinski and his actors respect them to the letter to break free of them despite everything. “The question of temporality is omnipresent in Beckett, continues the director. From the moment we consider the stage directions as a score and not as a mandate, we find a freedom in the constraint, as well as a form of complete inertia in the imposed silences. Just because we don’t talk much doesn’t mean we aren’t rich inside, and that’s basically how life is. »

What if end of the game it suggests a very dark disaster, for Osinski it is certainly no less luminous because it also tells us about what is left of life. “For me, it’s a stylized way of talking about our elders and the end of life. Maybe because while we were rehearsing the play, I was accompanying my father, who was very old, who had suffered a stroke after a fall, and who died shortly before our premiere in Avignon. » This, for him, is not so sad:“It is mainly life that I see in this piece. »

“End of the game” iii, from Thursday until March 5 at the Théâtre de l’Atelier (Paris, 18). 1 h 50.

Source : Le JDD

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