WAITING FOR GODOT
by Samuel Beckett.
Tour to 28 November 2015.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 20 October at Palace TheatreMansfield.
A fine production from an outstanding company.
Human existence is meaningless, unless we invest it with a meaning of our own. Put like that it sounds bleak. But we can face up to the situation and make the best of it; like Vladimir and Estragon, we’re our own bosses. This, for some people, is the theme underlying Samuel Beckett’s a famously enigmatic play Waiting for Godot.
Bek Palmer’s set is cold and stark; with blasted trees, some suspended overhead. This is at once nowhere and everywhere; it is about all of us. It departs from the Beckett specification by the inclusion of stepping stones.
Vladimir (Peter Cadden) and Estragon (Richard Heap), the two tramps waiting in vain for Godot, are intentionally comic and pathetic. With their touching platonic bond and, more explicitly, their passing-the-hat routine they’re like Laurel and Hardy; Estragon the down-to-earth realist, Vladimir the idealist.
Cadden, with his kidney trouble and cultured speech, and Heap, who has problems with his boots and a deep and rough voice, deliver stunning performances; timing and gesture are faultless.
Anthony McGuiness is also excellent as the boy-servant Lucky, generating applause with his incredible monologue, apparently fragmented and meaningless gibberish. Jonathan Ashley too is splendid as the grotesquely reactionary Pozzo, who in the second half is blind – the rope, which he holds and which goes round Lucky, at their first appearance a tether, becomes a leading device. Every time Pozzo and Lucky go off stage we hear a crashing sound; a deeply funny detail.
There’s also a fine performance from Sonja Zobel as A Boy, a sprite-like figure hopping about the stepping-stones who claims to be a messenger from Godot; and who may or may not be imagined by Vladimir and Estragon.
Arguably, the play ends optimistically. Both tramps agree, “We have kept our appointment”. And they haven’t proceeded with their contemplated suicides. What’s more, some leaves have appeared overnight on the tree from which they were going to hang themselves.
Despite its early hostile reception, Godot has become a twentieth-century classic. Directed by Michael Cabot, this touring production from the outstanding London Classic Theatre does it full justice.
Estragon: Richard Heap.
Vladimir: Peter Cadden.
Lucky: Michael Keane.
Pozzo: Jonathan Ashley.
A Boy: Sonja Zobel.
Director: Michael Cabot.
Designer/Costume: Bek Palmer.
Lighting: Andy Grange.
Fight director: John Fryer.
23 Oct 7.30pm Barnsley Civic (The Assembly Room) 01226 327000 www.barnsleycivic.co.uk
24 Oct 7.30pm Alnwick Playhouse 01665 510785 www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk
27 Oct 8pm Millennium Forum Derry 028 7126 4455 www.millenniumforum.co.uk
29 Oct 8pm Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre Armagh 028 3752 1821 www.marketplacearmagh.com
30 Oct 8pm Island Arts Centre Lisburn 028 9250 9254 www.islandartscentre.com
1 Nov 7.45pm Theatre at the Mill Newtownabbey 028 9034 0202 www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/boxoffice
2 Nov 8pm Riverside Theatre Coleraine 028 7012 3123 www.riversidetheatre.org.uk
3 Nov 7.30pm The Old Courthouse Antrim 028 9446 3113 www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/boxoffice
4,5 Nov 8pm Town Hall Theatre Galway 00 353 91 569777 www.tht.ie
6 Nov 8pm Watergate Theatre Kilkenny 00 353 56 7761674 www.watergatetheatre.com
10-14 Nov 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.15pm New Vic Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme 01782 717962 www.newvictheatre.org.uk
17 Nov 7.30pm Arts Centre Edge Hill University Ormskirk 01695 584480 www.edgehill.ac.uk/artscentre
18 Nov 7.30pm Loughborough University Arts 01509 263171 www.arts.lboro.ac.uk
19,20 Nov 7.45pm Civic Theatre Chelmsford 01245 606505 www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres
21 Nov 7.30pm Taliesin Arts Centre Swansea 01792 602060 www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk
23-25 Nov 7.30pm Mat Wed 2.30pm Harlow Playhouse 01279 431945 www.playhouseharlow.com
27 Nov 7.30pm Theatre Royal Margate 01843 292795 www.theaetreroyalmargate.com
28 Nov 7.30pm New Theatre Royal Portsmouth 023 9264 9000 www.newtheatreroyal.com