It has been a bonanza season for stagings of Beckett in Chicago. Last night I saw Endgame performed by The Hypocrites, and recently at Court Theater a highly publicized staging of Waiting for Godot, though both productions were equally well-staged and well-acted, with possibly a tip of the hat in favor of The Hypocrites.
I used to own the Grove edition of both plays, but lost them in the Great Book Purge of 15 years ago—regrettable that—so I lack the means of checking my thoughts: but Endgame in particular came alive for me on the stage in a way that it hadn't in textual form. In both cases the influence of silent and early cinema seemed apparent (I know this is not a new thesis; just striking to me how obvious it appears now). Possibly someone would disagree.
In particular, Endgame felt like an intellectualized version of Laurel and Hardy, a comedy duo that I never much cared for as a kid when it was rerun on "the telly" (as Stan might've said). Since the long-term prospects for survival of celluloid (even in digital format) are probably less than that of prose, it may be a good thing that Beckett cannibalized it (so to speak) and even improved it.
In Godot, it was hard not to think of the iconic Wizard of Oz (film by Victor Fleming). When Pozzo's slave Lucky speaks his frantic monologue (at least as in Court's production) it reminded me of Ray Bolger's Scarecrow in the late scene in which at last, instead of his coveted brain, he gets a diploma, which amounts to the same thing.
I'm sure these observations are nothing new, just striking. Now if someone would just stage Happy Days that would complete my triumvirate...