L-R: Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern in “Endgame.” Written by Samuel Beckett and directed by Mandell, “Endgame” plays through May 22, 2016, at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772. Contact: CTGMedia@CenterTheatreGroup.org / (213) 972-7376 Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Three actors over 80, a fourth in his late 60s … who says there are no quality stage roles for senior citizens these days?

I’m talking about “Endgame,” the classic existential play by Samuel Beckett, now onstage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Some critics consider it a more mature version of “Waiting for Godot.”

The consummate exponent, actor and director of Beckett’s work in America, 88-year old Alan Mandell — who appeared in a memorable production of “Waiting for Godot” at the Mark Taper Forum — directs and stars in this production. He shares the stage with his Irish counterpart and Godot co-star Barry McGovern, another Beckett expert.

“Endgame” isn’t the cheeriest play in town, but there were plenty of laughs from the audience on opening night, and that’s the thing about Beckett. He focuses on the existential plight – life, death, and everything in between – that humans are subject to. But there’s humor in the despair and absurdity.

Take this line: “Can there be misery — loftier than mine?” spoken by blind, wheelchair-bound Hamm (Mandell) — which immediately generated laughs.

Hamm can’t see or walk and Clov (McGovern) can’t sit or leave. Clov is Hamm’s servant, and Hamm’s parents live in two trashcans … occupied on opening night by beloved 90-year-old Charlotte Rae (“The Facts of Life”) as Nell, and James Greene as Nagg. Rae alternates her role with actress Anne Gee Byrd.

Post-World War II, a sense of futility pervaded the arts, and Beckett’s work is known to reflect this. But even for Beckett, life itself isn’t all gloom and doom. Endgame comes to mean the end of life, the end of a chess game (Beckett was a chess player) and the absurdity of everything, as we wait for the inevitable to occur, unable to stop it.

“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness,” says Nell from within her covered metal container. “Ah, yesterday,” she coos rapturously and wistfully as she and Nagg talk about the past … that is, whenever Hamm allows them to open the lids and come out of their cans.

This play isn’t “about” something – it’s about everything, in a view best expressed by Clov: “All life long the same questions, the same answers.”

If you’re seeking a master class in how to do Beckett the way he would have wanted it, you won’t do better than this production of “Endgame.”

The show runs through May 22 at the Kirk Douglas; for details on tickets and dates, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.

Photo by Craig Schwartz: Alan Mandell (left) and Barry McGovern in “Endgame” at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

‘Not That Jewish’

Following a lengthy local run at The Braid theater here in Santa Monica, “Not That Jewish” — Monica Piper’s one-woman show — returns here before moving on to an off-Broadway production this fall.

You have two months to see it, beginning May 7, Thursdays, Saturdays and most Sundays, at this little art and performance space in an industrial complex just off Colorado Avenue and Stewart Street.

The Emmy Award-winning actress tells her own story. From her funny family, to her WASP wedding, through her first step on a comedy club stage, an “almost” night with Mickey Mantle, to writing stints on “Roseanne,” “Mad About You” and “Rugrats,” Piper was contented simply loving chopped liver and thinking she was Jewish enough.

But after having a son, and seeing him through his bar mitzvah, she finally had to decide what being Jewish truly means.

“Not that Jewish” plays at The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave., #102. Reservations: (800) 838-3006 or www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

Selkie by the sea

If you’re seeking a site-specific theatrical experience based at the beach and if you’re a fan of seals, you’re in luck. A unique play called “Second Skin” is being performed through May 15 on the sand at the Annenberg Beach House.

“Second Skin,” written by Kristin Idaszak, tells its tale through the vehicle of “Selkies,” mythic creatures from Celtic folktales. The playwright says, “Selkies are the souls of the drowned. They look human, but they’re not.” Half-seal and half-human, Selkies live in the ocean but can return to the shore by slipping off their seal skins.

Although the traditional myth tells of a man who falls in love with a female Selkie, the playwright gives the story a feminist twist, turning it into an intimate and haunting tale about mothers, daughters, and the lengths we go to protect those we love.

The show begins at sunset and the world darkens as the story sinks deeper into mystery. The production is inspired by the magic of the bio-luminescent algae that shoots like lightning through Southern California waves in the fall.

“Second Skin” premiered last year at UC San Diego’s Wagner New Play Festival and is being produced in Los Angeles under the banner of two “experience-driven” theater companies: The West and The Flagship Ensemble. The founder/artistic director of Flagship is Kate Jopson, who directs this incarnation of “Second Skin.”

For tickets, dates and times, visit www.TheWest.LA or www.theflagshipensemble.com.

Children’s theater

Since I opened with seniors, I’ll close with kids: Morgan-Wixson Theatre offers The Tony-nominated Broadway hit, “A Year with Frog and Toad,” part of its Y.E.S. (Youth Education/Entertainment Series) initiative.

Based on Arnold Lobel’s beloved books, the whimsical musical show follows popular Frog and grumpy Toad, the story of a friendship that endures, weathering four fun-filled seasons.

Performances run May 14-29, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., at Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., in Santa Monica. Reserved seats available at www.morgan-wixson.org or by phone at (310) 828-7519.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications.