'Waiting For Godot' by Samuel Beckett
Directed by: Karen Sahlsberg
Assistant Director: Nancy Usher
Design by: John Tytherleigh
Lighting by: Nigel Greenaway
Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: David Webb, Richard Parish, Gary Griffiths, Nick Lund and Max Usher
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK: Waiting For Godot
Two old friends meet to converse, joke and argue with themselves as they wait through one day and then another for the mysterious Godot……………….When ‘Waiting for Godot’ was first staged in London 55 years ago, it shocked as many people as it delighted. It was famously described as, ‘a play in which nothing happens yet one which keeps audiences glued to their seats’. It is now regarded as one of the most significant plays of the 20th century.
REVIEW OF 'WAITING FOR GODOT' BY JEFF THOMSON
Samuel Beckett began writing as a critic, later turning to verse, short stories and novels but in1953 he entered the world of theatre as a dramatist; his first play was ‘Waiting for Godot’ and it is the latest production from the talented Cranleigh-Guildford based theatre company ‘Lighted Fools.’
I saw their production at the Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton. It was a brave choice because comparison with the recent West End production might be regarded as inevitable.
Beckett’s play originally attracted mixed reviews that ranged from acclaim through to bewilderment. This is hardly surprising because we never see Godot and we are never told why the characters wait for him.
Whatever the explanation for Beckett’s script – is it, at core, religious, political or psychoanalytical (?) – it remains an enigma driven by a powerful narrative that virtually demands a personal reaction; but like custard it cannot be nailed to a wall – the dialogue merely drip feeds and taunts us.
So if there isn’t a traditional plot how do the ‘Lighted Fools’ fare? I thought astonishingly well.
In my judgement their success comes from characterisation. Richard Parish as the ‘vagrant’ Estragon twitches, scratches, winces and shuffles suggesting a complete back-story, that isn’t scripted, but which justifies his obsessive irascibility. Unkempt and salivating, at times he wandered aimlessly around, numbed within the bleak stage setting designed by John Tytherleigh.
David Webb tackled Vladimir – his Vladimir streaked with arrogance as he dismissed Estragon in a series of domineering put-downs: this time the stage-setting appeared to mirror the bankruptcy of Vladimir’s emotional development. Webb offered a skilled interpretation that was underscored by disingenuous smiles and timed pauses, allowing moments to freeze, perilously, in the air.
Also in the cast was Gary Griffiths as Pozzo, Nick Lund as the so unlucky Lucky and Max Usher as The Boy. Here the company once again demonstrated strength when fielding intelligent players in (relatively) smaller roles.
Pozzo is the catalyst for reaction from ‘the secret world beyond’ and Griffiths offers a range of uninhibited emotions that began with menace, developed to stupor and disintegrated into the psychotic; as the exploited Lucky, Nick Lund has an evening of silent subjugation and one speech – a difficult role - effectively delivered with a hysterical conviction. The Young Boy (Max Usher) is mostly regarded as ‘conceptual innocence,’ quite a challenge but successfully integrated in a believable manner.
But it is Estragon and Vladimir’s evening and they grab it ruthlessly.
In her programme notes director Karen Sahlsberg observed the play, for her, suggests life, existence and meaning can be different things to different people. She offered a thoughtful production that moved along at a satisfying pace and an evening that clearly intrigued the audience.
It seems clear ‘the debate’ about what Beckett really meant will continue for another 57 years. I suggest it’s unlikely to be resolved even then.
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON 'WAITING FOR GODOT'
An excellent production.
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday evening's performance of a play that I read at school (a few years ago...) and thought I "ought" to see: to my delight, I was completely enthralled by it.
Thanks for a wonderful evening.
It was truly sensational. You were amazing; I was not surprised by your performance, but I must say you were so at home in 'the round', really incredible performance. Each of you performed to the highest level.
Truly fantastic; a wonderful show. Well done to a very talented cast.
I thought the play was absolutely brilliant - well done!!
I really enjoyed it, even if I am not sure I really understood it.
The acting from all concerned was incredible and I have to say I really admire you all for performing with the audience only inches away.
I first saw the play in 1955, directed by Peter Hall. I didn’t understand it then and still don’t, despite reading it carefully and seeing a couple of other productions since, but it’s a fascinating piece of theatre and hugely enjoyable when well done, as it was tonight.
An excellent all round production.
Thanks for a good evening's entertainment………..not sure I'd use the word ‘enjoy’ but it was certainly interesting.
Definitely thought provoking, my mind keeps churning away at both the play and the performance.
For something that is designed to be 'absurd' it was actually very believable.
I thought David Webb and Richard Parish were both, as ever, excellent. Learning those words is no mean feat with all the non-sequiturs and repetition and let's face it, nonsense!
Richard Parish’s portrayal of the anguish of Estragon, particularly at lack of memory, was particularly convincing and uncomfortable as it should be.
Gary Griffiths was very good as Ponzo, very larger than life yet still convincing and not at all OTT. Physically he was excellent too.
Nick Lund was amazing. That speech……wow! Just learning it demands respect but it was delivered very convincingly………..to such an extent, that I was beginning to convince myself it was an ad-lib.
Young people in adult productions so often stick out like sore thumbs but there was no self-consciousness in Max Usher as the Boy and his acting was very good.
I imagine it's a show that's very easy to do very badly and you did it very well.
Well done for another sterling performance last night.
A real tour de force……I am amazed at all your combined talent. You must all be quite exhausted! I’m thinking deeply about the play!
My congrats for a superb production of 'Godot'. It's a play I had only seen in odd (very odd) snatches on the tele on arts programmes etc, so it was great to see it in all its splendid entirety. People have asked me what it’s about but I don't analyse………I just go with the flow.
You are all SO TALENTED!
What an amazing production, you really pulled it off with such sensitivity and skill. Attention to detail, as always was exemplary - particularly enjoyed the blackened radish and chewed chicken bones (takes a REAL actor to munch on something that has already been mauled by another!). Your characters were so beautifully defined that the text even started to make some sense! Nick Clegg missed a treat!
Congratulations on a stimulating evening.
Fantastic – how do you do it?
Your plays have opened up a new world for us. It is brilliant to keep questioning our assumptions.
It was a top quality production I thought.
We have seen some amazing productions from Lighted Fools but this was truly fantastic. The acting was superb and the direction so light, it was as if the characters were living their lives in front of us. Crikey!
I was wildly depressed at the thought of all I haven’t achieved, or worse, haven’t even attempted because of being tied by the minutiae of my life. We both feel there are so many questions arising from the play.
I have just googled Beckett for biographical details. I had wondered if the play was written in French as there were so many Gallic touches. I was taken straight back to school and an essay title discussing why violent revolution was possible in France but not in England (we had middle classes, they didn’t etc. and I suppose the same could be said of Ireland). But, also going back to school, didn’t Shakespeare say it all first? ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
What a fascinating evening, I’m so glad we came, so glad you did it.
Congratulations on a fascinating production.
I enjoyed your play on Friday night - yes ENJOYED !! I know a lot of people only go to the theatre to be entertained, but fortunately I haven't got to that stage in my life yet.
The play?- well, the play was the play - I guess I didn't understand bits of it - but maybe nobody really understands bits of it. But I did enjoy the whole production, the characters, the costumes, the set.
My only request would be - can we have something a bit happier next
time!! Keep up the good work - you've introduced me to so much.