Waiting for Waiting for Godot
By Dave Hanson
St James Studio to 24 September
Tkts: 0844 264 2140
Runs: 1h 30m, one interval
Review: Tom Aitken, 01 September 2016
Entertaining, and the actors draw you in.
This is an American backstage comedy about two male actors, one, Ester, elderly, the other, Val, a beginner. They are present as stand-ins in case of emergency, and spend the entire performance in the dressing room, much of it in discussion that teeters constantly on the verge of tempestuous argument, with some sense that physical violence might break out at any moment.
As you would expect, Val is idealistic about the craft of acting, while Ester has become deeply and self-protectively cynical about it. There are occasional interventions by Laura, the stage manager.
The two men are waiting for Waiting for Godot in two senses. One is that Beckett’s masterpiece is about two men awaiting the arrival of Godot, a mysterious character who never appears. The other is that both are awaiting their hoped for entry to the status of employed actors.
Val, played by James Marlowe, is quite young, and therefore is driven by optimism and a sense that, although the world he is fighting for a place in is highly competitive, it is also essentially fair, recognising and employing people like himself.
Simon Day’s Ester dominates proceedings pretty much throughout. This is the case, however, for reasons that have made him a very unhappy man. He does his best throughout to convince Val, but even more himself, that that he is an actor of huge potential, whereas only incredible ninnies actually have jobs and get paid.
When he launches into a speech, be it from Godot or some other dramatic highlight you do feel sympathy for him. But for much of the time you are aware that he is a man who simply has not been fortunate in his profession and that this has more than a little to do with his abrasive personality.
Overall an entertaining hour and a half, and there are moments towards the end when I felt quite sympathetically involved with both men.
Ester: Simon Day
Val: James Marlowe
Laura: Laura Kirman
Directed by: Mark Bell