He is replaced in Complicité’s production of Samuel Beckett’s play by Mark Rylance, who plays Hamm opposite director Simon McBurney as Clov.
Briers’s withdrawal was prompted by the departure of Adrian Scarborough, who was due to play Clov for the first six weeks of the run but who has also withdrawn due to other commitments.
Briers commented: “After much soul searching, I have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from Endgame. It was a long held promise to play the role opposite Adrian. When that was no longer possible, I felt I had to leave the production although it meant losing the possibility of working with a great director and old friend, Simon McBurney. It is with great regret that I leave the company and wish Simon and Mark the best. I look forward to seeing the production when it opens at the Duchess.”
Due to the changes, the production’s first performance has been pushed back to 2 October, with a press night on 15 October.
Beckett’s 1957 play centres on old, blind Hamm and his servant Clov, with whom he shares a mutually dependent and fractious relationship. With only Hamm’s parents, Nell and Nagg, legless from a biking accident, for company, they are condemned to a daily routine, completely separated from the outside world.
Rylance comes to the role of Hamm fresh from the Royal Court where he is currently starring in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem. The former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, Rylance has numerous stage credits including Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen’s theatre in 1993, for which he won a Laurence Olivier Award, and, more recently, French farce Boeing Boeing, which transferred to Broadway and earned him a Tony Award.
Tom Hickey joins the cast as Nagg, alongside Miriam Margolyes as Nell.
Ticket holders who no longer wish to see Endgame can apply to their point of sale for a full refund before 2 October. Customers who have booked to see the show before the rescheduled first preview will have priority booking for a later performance of their choice.
Endgame is booking to 5 December.