NT Platform (Michael Gambon) and Endgame

Platform Interview by Mel Gussow at the RNT Lyttelton / Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Albery

Michael Gambon
Lee Hall and Michael Gambon in Endgame

American theatre critic and writer, Mel Gussow, interviewed Michael Gambon for a full house at the Lyttleton Theatre as part of the National's Platform Series. Both Mr. Gussow and Mr. Gambon were subdued, tame. If not for Gambon's long hair and brightly striped socks, one would not have been surprised to witness a discussion on economy or butterfly collecting. What we got was a handful of humorous, even michievious anecdotes on Gambon's theatrical life which feature a stellar cast of characters including Olivier, Richardson, Pacino, Bill Nighy, as well as a motley collection of directors - some unnamed. Blood is never drawn. One might believe the Titan was only visible when someone else's words tumbled out of his mouth.

A true journeyman, he can just convince us that he "always" thinks about money until he seriously discusses his passion for the theatre - the work. And this gentle giant occasionally exposes himself by quizzing the witnesses: "Am I talking rubbish?"

He is at the stage in his carreer where he can choose or pass on projects depending on such variables as cast, director, script, and even configuration of the stage. He admitted to hating theatre-in-the-round for not being able to turn his back and his inability to avoid, whilst looking at fellow actors, noticing the rows of trainers behind.

Mr. Gambon, now playing Hamm in a WestEnd production of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, uses the entire stage without leaving his chair. His supporting cast of comedian Lee Evans, Liz Smith and Geoffrey Hutchings hold their own. To his credit, generous Gambon can be quiet and still. The direction by Matthew Warcus is light, crisp, and funny. The set is flawlessly simple and interesting. One likes to hear a stage door that slams firmly and realistically. That alone wins the respect of fellow professionals.

Hamm askes, "Why do you stay?". Clove answers, "Why do you keep me?" "There's no one else." "There's nowhere else." This may well sum up the play but also speaks volumes about theatre professional who stay and test the gods year after year for the chance to work - just keep working. Such a one is Michael Gambon.

Reviewer: Catherine Lamm

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