Production: Waiting For Godot
Venue: Theatre Royal
Rating: * * *
Watching this play, I had the constant sense of being manipulated. Beckett has his two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, spending their entire time on stage trying to pass the time. Essentially, nothing happens. For hours. Certainly, Godot never arrives.
But again and again Beckett’s audience is encouraged to read into the play what may not be there. The production reflected this well. Profundities were delivered with humour, while apparently inane thoughts were often the cause of violent physical disagreement. Throughout, the actors cleverly toyed with an awareness of their audience, capitalising on the opportunities to peer melodramatically offstage. This helped greatly in making the cramped venue intimate, but, particularly with audience members having to walk through the action when leaving early, there can be no doubt the production would have benefited from a larger auditorium.
The casting of the two protagonists was excellent. That Vladimir was taller than Estragon exemplified their paternalistic relationship. Highlighted increasingly with the characters’ desperation, this paternal relationship encapsulates not only much of the play, but surely a great deal of audience feeling. The production’s symbolic proto-religious simplicity was, at the end, masterful: “Let’s go. We can’t. Why not? We’re waiting for Godot.”