Endgame/The Playboy of the Western World

Rated 5.0

Two landmark Irish plays dominate the Shakespeare Santa Cruz festival, which is one of the best. J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World premiered in 1907, and this 100th anniversary production underlines its classic status. This is the play that made it cool to be Irish, and Synge’s depiction of common folk is still hugely entertaining. The companion production, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, is an absurdist classic that’s every bit as challenging today as it was when it premiered in 1957. Artistic director Paul Whitworth, who is retiring, gives memorable performances in both productions.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz plays on the UC Santa Cruz campus. In addition to Endgame and The Playboy of the Western World (staged indoors), the season includes Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing (staged outdoors); $68 for two plays, $130 for four; (831) 459-2159 www.shakespearesantacruz.org. Through September 2.