WAITING FOR GODOT
by Samuel Beckett.
Barbican Theatre Barbican Theatre Silk Street EC2Y 8D To 13 June 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 10 Jun 7.45pm.
Captioned 11 Jun.
Runs 3hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7638 8891.
Review: Timothy Ramsden.
A long Waiting – but well worth it.
Seeing Sydney Theatre Company’s production in the Barbican’s International Beckett Season after Olwen Fouéré’s solo in Lessness makes it seem like ‘Moreness’, full of individual characters and action, while Andrew Upton’s production fills the stage with happy business.
Back in the mid-fifties it was described as nothing happening – twice. Beckett soon dealt with the twice, reducing his plays to barely one-act. And stage action steadily reduced throughout his subsequent writing. Never mind character interaction; by the time of the short pieces Lisa Dwan has now made her own and performs in the Barbican’s Pit, even to see a whole individual becomes a gesture of rare expansiveness.
Upton immediately embraces all humanity (to use a term ironically mentioned) by pairing Richard Roxburgh’s definitely Australian Estragon with a Vladimir who sounds like an English academic. Hugo Weaving looks like a sepia-tinted professor on his day off, doing the gardening with beard untrimmed and in his old clothes.
His Vladimir treats the problem of their existence, and whereabouts, with academic detachment, while expecting to sustain his improvident companion with vegetables from his pockets. Roxburgh is the more clown-like, lacking any time perspective. Estragon’s problems are always now, and so become extremely important, as when he gyrates on the floor desperately trying to remove a recalcitrant boot.
It’s in the contrast between today’s busy triviality and uncertainty about yesterday or tomorrow that the play’s tragedy emerges.
The contrast between Vladimir and Estragon is mirrored in the arrivals of Pozzo and Lucky, bombastic master and surly servant, in each act. Both are going somewhere in the first act – wherever it might be, there’s a sense of purpose, just as the other two look forward to Godot’s arrival.
By their return the travellers have become accustomed to their sudden loss of sight and voice, as they are to their lives generally. Blindly stumbling as the others wait with increasing gloom, no wonder time’s the enemy, described as “accursed”.
As for the Boy who arrives with Godot’s message, his simplicity seems to await the agony of a wider consciousness. And night arrives suddenly, arbitrarily – out of time.
Lucky: Luke Mullins.
Pozzo: Philip Quast.
Estragon: Richard Roxburgh.
Vladimir: Hugo Weaving.
Boy: Harrison Donnelly/Keir Edkins-O’Brien.
Director: Andrew Upton.
Designer: Zsolt Khell.
Lighting: Nick Schlieper.
Sound: Max Lyandvert.
Costume: Alice Babidge.
Voice/Text coach: Charmian Gradwell.
Associate director: Anna Lengyel.
Presented by the Barbican. With the support of the Australian High Commission in London.