Review: Waiting For Godot, New Wolsey Theatre

Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett, New Wolsey Theatre, until April 7 (no performance Good Friday 6 April)

This Waiting for Godot is presented comically, eschewing the traditional seriousness that has been its trade mark for nearly sixty years. Ian Brown’s all-black cast play it as a music hall piece, using every available strand of humour. When it was premiered ‘Godot’ puzzled and dazzled in equal measure. Audiences walked out on the interminable wait for a Godot who never came and who may never have existed in a surreal world of forgetfulness and human frailty. It is a play of nothingness as, on a bare road with a single tree for company, lifelong friends Estragon (Patrick Robinson) and Vladimir (Jeffery Kissoon) wait, just wait. Vladimir is the more sensible of the two and frustrated by the surreal world he finds himself in, more so when Pozzo (Cornell S John) arrives following the ironically-named Lucky (Guy Burgess) who is attached by a rope that cuts into his throat and makes his life as a downtrodden lackey all the more unbearable. Lucky’s ‘thinking’ monologue of intellectual gobbledegook was a triumph.

The characters pass the time in apparently meaningless conversation, arguing and baiting one another, then making up before starting the cycle again. And all the while Vladimir repeats that they are ‘waiting for Godot’.

Yet for all the comedy despair is ever present, especially when the young messenger (Fisayo Akinade in his theatrical debut) again gives them the daily news that Godot is not coming. Act 2 brings dark pathos as the confident Pozzo is brought low by disability and Lucky is all but done in.

Beckett admitted ‘Godot’ an enigma and complained that the critics were reading too much into it. But there is much to be read. Real life parallels emerge and gradually it becomes obvious that were Godot to arrive he would only be a disappointment.

Carol Twinch