Thursday, November 3, 2016

Waiting for Godot - People's Theatre - Review

Waiting for Godot
People's Theatre 

1st Nov 2016

The stage is set - the now familiar scene - a dusty road, a rock, a tree. Apparently lifeless. Enter a character, shabby, who sits and tries to remove his boot. He cannot. Enter another character, equally shabby. They greet each other. Vladimir (Steve Robertson) examines his hat and talks while Estragon (Gordon Russell) continues to try to remove his boot, appealing to his friend for help. Vladimir seems oblivious to his friend's predicament. Once aware he berates him for not airing his feet daily. The two men bicker. Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir says they cannot because they are waiting for Godot. They aren't sure if they are in the right place - by the tree, but is the tree a tree or is it merely a bush, or a shrub? Perhaps they are in the wrong place. Perhaps they should wait by a different tree? There are no other trees. They contemplate hanging themselves.

Godot is a play about waiting, waiting for people to come, waiting for something to happen, waiting for time to pass, and about filling the time while we wait. Life is futile, and time is filled with inconsequential things, absurd things. Things that make no sense, and yet make every sense.
The friends wait for Godot, and while they wait they amuse themselves with stories and jokes that they have clearly told before. Their day drags on, until the monotony is broken by the arrival of a stranger, Pozzo (Kevin Gibson) and his slave, Lucky (Roger Liddle). The slave is exhausted but Pozzo shows him no mercy, ordering him about relentlessly. He is being taken to market to be sold, for he was once a good slave who worked hard and entertained his master, but now he is useless, lazy, no good. The four talk and argue and tell tales, Lucky dances and thinks for their entertainment, and eventually Pozzo and Lucky leave. Shortly after a boy (Lewis Gammer) arrives and tells Vladimir that Godot will not come today but surely he will come tomorrow and they must wait for him... And so the futility continues into another day.

This is such a good production - Steve Robertson and Gordon Russell are the archetypal duo, bouncing lines off one another - best friends, bickering one moment and joking the next, constantly at odds with but clearly affectionately attached to each other like a macabre Laurel and Hardy. In comparison to the bizarre Pozzo and Lucky however, they seem almost sensible. Kevin Gibson plays the rather pompous, boastful Pozzo with ease, swinging from Forced gentility to hysterical grief, to abject cruelty in the blink of an eye, while Liddle's still, silent slave is unnerving - until or perhaps especially when he dances his strange avant-garde dance.

The interaction between these characters is both hysterically funny and immeasurably sad. They are destined to repeat the same actions as their lives crumble away, senses are lost, memories are lost, and yet at the end, their friendship endures.
Bleak? Yes. But not without hope if you know where to look for it.

A stunning set, beautifully and dramatically lit.
Waiting for Godot runs until Sat 5th Nov.

Denise Sparrowhawk

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