Waiting For Godot
Bradley Barlow | 10 Apr 2016 21:58pm
Waiting for Godot was most famously reviewed by Vivian Mercier as a play where nothing happens, twice, and after seeing the Guildburys Theatre Company production I’d agree entirely. But that is not to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable evening of theatre.
The play focuses on two companions waiting by a tree for the eponymous and elusive Godot. Vladimir (or Didi) comes across as slightly more mature, taking charge of the situation they are in. He is played here by Dave Ufton who, despite an early prompt, never faltered in his characterisation. I feel it would be unfair to talk about him in solace as this is a play that relies heavily on the partnership with Tim Brown’s Estragon (or Gogo) who mostly obediently follows his friend’s instructions to wait until nightfall for Godot before taking shelter and returning the next morning. Brown’s Irish accent leant Gogo a slightly more playful tone, living much more in the moment than the slightly angst-ridden Didi. Ufton and Brown were a brilliant double act, particularly in their moments of slapstick but also during more sombre moments.
They are joined in their moratorium by Pozzo (Phill Griffith) and his slave Lucky (Tom Kent), tied to a rope and kept at a distance from his master. Griffith brought a manic urgency to the (lack of) proceedings, commanding the barren wasteland like a steampunk circus ringmaster and having Gogo and Didi engrossed in his tales. The mute Lucky stared out into the wilderness with dead eyes for much of the first act and I was questioning how I would judge Kent’s slightly awkwardly stood oddity of a character. This was until he launched into a long, punctuation-less monologue that seemed to go on forever but one that built in passion and ferocity and ended with the audience’s round of applause. Kent has a truly beautiful speaking voice, no doubt made more appealing following the incredibly long silence that preceded it. Contrasted with Griffith’s more egomaniacal presence, this was another pair that worked very well together. The final member of the cast, Jordan Gunner as Godot’s messenger boy, well-spoken and more youthful than the rest. A fine young actor who, based on his two brief appearances, will no doubt go on to more prominent roles in the future.
I was a big fan of all the production elements, the costumes by Jemma Jessup, Derby Phillips and Clive Rubero in particular, especially Gogo’s dirtied yellow hoodie which brought the production into the modern age and a slight sense of apocalypse, although I think Didi’s overcoat and Gogo’s hat could have been much tattier. Ian Nichols’s set design was equally brilliant – simple yet with enough detail to make the place believable. A big round of applause must go to director Oli Bruce who created an outstanding production full of rich performances and a clear understanding of proceedings. My only gripe would be that I felt the four main actors were perhaps twenty years too young – I’ve not read the play but from how the text was performed there was a sense that some pairings had been together for half a century.
In all honesty, I kept willing for the play to actually do something. A lot of the time it felt slow but to be clear I don’t think for a moment that this was a pacing issue from the company – in some ways I think that this was Beckett’s intention, a sort of test of endurance for the audience. But this particular production in the hands of Oli Bruce was absolutely excellent and a real triumph – I can’t wait to see what he does next… (I’ll get my own coat)
- : admin
- : 08/04/2016