Waiting for Godot has to be one of Samuel Beckett’s most well-known plays and largely considered as one of the most significant plays from the 20th century. Waiting for Godot is an absurdist, tragicomedy, translated from French into English by Beckett from his original, En attendant Godot. Due to the fascination surrounding this play and its immense popularity, it has been re-worked and staged for many audiences, many times over. This new production however, is something rather very special indeed. Using Beckett’s own notes and sketches and directed by a company that are more than familiar with his work, The Godot Company, this production is Beckett as Beckett intended.
Set on a country road, which happens to be the setting for the entire play, the audience are introduced to Estragon and Vladimir. Estragon and Vladimir are two older gentlemen, quite visibly homeless and down on their luck. It is established rather quickly that these two men are waiting for a man, a man called Godot. The relationship between the pair is a joy to watch as it unfurls and tells a story. Each character is unique, bringing something to the friendship that the other does not. The journey these two characters take is fascinating, this is of course a metaphorical journey as physically they do not move on from their original setting. It is almost as if Estragon and Vladimir are playing some sort of waiting game or are being tested. This is the sheer beauty of this play, there is room for interpretation, which forces the audience to think. Kenneth Colley, plays Estragon and Peter Marinker, plays Vladimir. Colley and Marinker are absolutely sublime in these roles and work harmoniously with one another to deliver a funny, moving and thought-provoking performance. The genius of their performance, individually and as a pair, is their ability to play these weak and broken characters with such strength and focus.
Apart from a large piece of a tree hanging in the air and a small rock on the floor, the entire stage is completely void of any set or props, except for a few personal props. The vastness of the performance space lends a bleak yet open atmosphere to the play, which at times has a positive effect, and also helps add a further layer to this captivating play.
Another of the elements that go towards making this play so special is the fact that it is staged and performed in the round. Rather being performed on a traditional stage with a proscenium arch, theatre in the round allows the actors to use a much wider performance space and the audience to watch from every angle. There is not one single thing you would want to miss in the play, from expressive and illustrative facial expressions to the sharp, intellectual and complex dialogue. Whether you have a strong knowledge of this play or not, you will not be disappointed with this production, Beckett as Beckett intended.
Review by Haydn James
Waiting for Godot
Regarded as the most important play of the 20th century and produced in collaboration with some of those that knew him best, this production is Beckett as Beckett intended.
This is a major new production of this celebrated play about the inevitability of suffering, the collapse of abstract ideas in the face of it and the human capacity to deal with it anyway. Using Beckett’s own notes and sketches, this production draws on scholarship, insight and theatrical experience from those that knew the man himself and is presented by a company that know the work inside out.
From the obscure to the famous, many have had audiences watching this play over and over, year after year. Variations in setting, time, gender and context have led to a host of versions ranging from the raw to the ridiculous and everything in between.
Kenneth Colley – Estragon
Peter Marinker – Vladimir
Joe Cushley – Pozzo
Jeremiah O’Connor – Lucky
Boy – Tom Cawte
Alexander Technique Teacher – Karen Wentworth
Dramaturg – Peter Marinker
Producer – Dave Wybrow
Tree designed and created by Paul Hazelton
The Cockpit Theatre
London NW8 8EH
Box Office: 020 7258 2925
Wednesday 1st October to Wednesday 29th October 2014
Running Time Approx 2hrs 30mins including an interval
Wednesday 8th October 2014