WAITING FOR GODOT
by Samuel Beckett.
Royal Lyceum Theatre Grindlay Street EH3 9AX To 10 October 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2pm.
Audio-described 1 October (+ Touch Tour 6.15pm), 3 October 2pm (+ Touch Tour 12.45pm).
BSL Signed 7 October 7.30pm.
Captioned 10 October 2pm.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 0131 248 4848.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 September.
One of the great Godots.
“A play in which nothing happens, twice,” wrote Irish critic Vivian Mercier in 1956, a quote more appreciative in context than it might seem. And productions have shown a lot happens. A character goes blind, another loses his speech. Two characters who live together discuss separation and suicide. Plenty there for most dramatists.
Godot, in a familiar pattern, moves from early humour to show depths of despair beneath. If Vladimir and Lucky talk to pass the time, they’re also avoiding thoughts that lie too deep for words. If Pozzo lives by the minutiae of social protocols the despondent depths they cover become evident in his final outburst.
The name ‘Godot’ has been applied to God, trash and a film character; the play’s import even more variously ascribed. The triumph of Mark Thomson’s production is that it neither tries to prescribe nor leaves things generalised. Sixty years since Godot reached Britain, fifty since Edinburgh’s Lyceum Company began, and opening Thomson’s own final season here, it has a lot of living-up to do.
And does it extremely well. Estragon’s bare feet notwithstanding, Michael Taylor’s white design could be an icy waste, a solid ice-block forming a rough seat. Bleak visibility rather than darkness sets a distinctive tone, as does the sole tree’s multiple budding in Act Two. These things don’t soften the play, but increase the charge that keeps characters going.
“He’s all humanity,” says Estragon of Pozzo. Godot here seems to encompass all drama. Brian Cox’s Vladimir is practical, forever planning, asking how Estragon would survive without him. Bill Paterson’s Estragon looks to the immediate, questioning Vladimir’s certainties, a creature of feeling more than thought; pulling-off a boot acquires life-or-death importance.
John Bett’s Pozzo has the bearing of a huntsman from the gentry. The essentially trivial becomes vital if it affects social standing; confidence cracks when part of the image – pipe or watch – goes missing. Benny Young’s Lucky has the bearing of an academic and gives his one speech a lecturer’s phrasing – the sense of sense, without meaning.
This vital revival shows Godot, far from being “nothing” is indeed “all humanity”.
Vladimir: Brian Cox.
Estragon: Bill Paterson.
Pozzo: John Bett.
Lucky: Benny Young.
Director: Mark Thomson.
Designer/Costume: Michael Taylor.
Lighting: Mark Doubleday.
Assistant director: Stewart Campbell.