One of the best plays I’ve ever seen performed is Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.
The latest production, which stars Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon (Gogo), and Patrick Stewart as Vladimir (Didi), is currently touring the UK.
Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup also star (as Pozzo and Lucky respectively).
This particular production of Waiting For Godot certainly benefits from having such talented actors star in it – for McKellen and Stewart are able to successfully mine Beckett’s rather bleak tragic-comic play for its humorous elements.
During one of the performances, Gogo (played by McKellen) rolled up his trouser legs and took off his shoes. He then walked across the stage with a ministry-of-silly-walks-style gait – and it was obvious that Ian McKellen was enjoying himself immensely. It was at that point that I realized I was watching a Knight of the Realm at work. I suddenly found the whole thing as bizarre and as surreal as anything Samuel Beckett could have dreamed up.
After one of the performances, McKellen and Stewart did a mock-impromptu soft-shoe shuffle. It was all a bit music-hall, but very funny and quite moving, despite that.
The set is amazing – a ruined building in the background and the stage as a piece of waste ground with a single tree growing in it – that’s all there is, but it’s all that’s needed.
One criticism: if there is anything superfluous, it’s the sound effects. They’re not at all necessary and detract a little from the seriousness of the play.
Aside: On the way out of the theatre I heard a 65-ish year old woman with blue hair and a fur coat proclaim: ‘Well, I’ve seen a lot of drama in my time and that was, without doubt, the worst play I’ve ever seen.’
As for me, well I enjoyed the play and the superlative performances immensely. I had a wonderful evening. Waiting For Godot is funny, moving, tragic, serious, flippant and comic. The current production is worth going to see. Don’t miss the opportunity. The quality of the acting alone is worth the price of admission.
Here’s a clip from Waiting For Godot website:
If you get a chance to see it, do so – it’s absolutely superb.