In Review – Waiting For Godot at the Arts Theatre (***)

Blogger Lauren Philpott (@lphilpott1) reviews Waiting For Godot for @MTAS_Official

Waiting for Godot was written by Samuel Beckett and first premiered in London in 1955. It has since been dubbed ‘The Most Significant English Language play of the 20th century’. Returning to its original home in the Arts Theatre, London this production has been met with a lot of anticipation and seemed to have the audience enthralled throughout. Despite this audience reaction I myself found it very bizarre and confusing, with no real storyline. However, the actors were all spotless, with wonderful chemistry and great comedic performances from all.

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Waiting For Godot tells the story of two very worn out and shabby-looking men –Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) who are, quite simply, Waiting For Godot. They sit on the side of a dusty road and wait, trying to find ways to pass the time. The setting for the play is extremely simple; a rock, a two branched tree and a dusky backdrop. This seems to suit the play brilliantly – any more would have been too much.

Vladimir, played by Nick Devlin, seems to be the ‘grown up’ of the pair, having a more mature outlook on the situation the two men have found themselves in. Estragon however, played by Patrick O’Donnell is the moody and childlike character and the two men complement each other very well. Both actors are outstanding, O’Donnell’s comedic timing is impeccable and Devlin’s more poignant moments drew the audience in perfectly – even myself, and I struggled to follow the story.

These men patient wait whilst trying to pass the time with various and random activities, such as discussing whether or not they should hang themselves, sharing carrots and turnips, and telling jokes. Soon they are approached by Pozzo, a smartly dressed man being led by Lucky, his dismissive slave. Pozzo, played by Paul Kealyn is very harsh in his treatment of Lucky, throwing verbal abuse and demanding him to perform menial tasks. Lucky, played by Paul Elliott is pained at doing so, but does not argue with his master. Both supporting actors portray their characters well and this was the show’s merit in my eyes.

godot 2During the first act we are introduced to these characters in their first day of waiting. The second act is the second day of waiting, and this is where it became extremely confusing for me. Didi recollects the previous day’s events, but Gogo cannot seem to remember these, and upon meeting Pozzo and Lucky once again, the paths that their lives have taken seem to have strayed to a completely different angle. I found this very difficult to follow, however at the very end of the play Didi’s musings become extremely poignant, and despite the confusion I found it extremely moving.

If you have studied, or are studying this play, then it might be a perfect one for you to rush to; the majority of the audience were amazed by it, however the storyline was very difficult for me to follow, and I found myself confused for most of the show. The performances from the actors however, could not be faulted, which leads to my rating of three stars for this show.

3 stars

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