Monday 12 May 2014
Theatre review: Waiting for Godot
The elderly countryside tramps of the play aren't a sight that strikes a chord in anyone's real life nowadays, so Dormandy has been granted permission to change them into something more uncomfortably familiar, and Vladimir and Estragon (Tom Stourton) are now homeless young crack addicts.
The play sees two consecutive, near-identical evenings in the men's lives, in which they battle ill-fitting boots and bladder infections, bemoan the lack of a rope to hang themselves with, and wait for the mysterious Godot to come and perhaps save them. Both nights they get visits from the wideboy gangster Pozzo (Jonathan Oliver) and his slave Lucky (Michael Roberts,) before a boy claiming to come from Godot arrives to tell them his boss won't be coming, and they'll have to wait for him another night.
The lead actors differentiate clearly between their characters, Stourton's resigned, exhausted Gogo the more natural physical comedian of the pair, Palmer's more superficially optimistic Didi barely holding a deep despair at bay. Their joy at the sight of Pozzo's crack pipe, and the idea of turning Godot's Boy messenger (Adam Charteris) into an Eastern European rent boy, gives a hint as to what Godot might be in this incarnation, and what kind of end to their problems Didi and Gogo are hoping for from him.
The fact that the production's been allowed a spark of originality is a plus, and I even laughed a few times, but as ever the playwright's ability to make minutes feel like hours asserted itself - Beckett and I are just never going to get on. Still, there were several consecutive minutes during which I didn't want to commit genocide, which technically makes this one my best-ever Beckett experiences.
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is booking until the 14th of June at Arcola Studio 1.
Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes including interval.