WAITING FOR GODOT
The Arts Theatre
Reviewed – 7th September 2017
“It was difficult not to leave feeling confused and exhausted”
To quote Irish literary critic Vivian Mercier in 1956, this is ‘a play in which nothing happens, twice’, and whilst this is one view, it was also voted the most significant English language play of the 20th century in a poll by the Royal National Theatre in 1990.
Where to begin then? I must admit that I potentially lean more towards Mercier’s view in my experience of the play, however there were some shining moments, particularly in the second half. Patrick O’Donnell and Nick Devlin, playing Gogo and Didi, have a wonderful chemistry and the tumultuous friendship they share feels exceedingly natural. This is no doubt partly to do with the performance touring for the past 10 years, and the depth of both characters is quite astounding. This also helps to offset the obvious comedic moments, which can be very brash and slapstick-esque at times. Whilst personally this did not appeal to my sense of humour, it certainly resonated with other audience members. With the entrance of Pozzo (Paul Kealyn) and Lucky (Conor Donelan) however, this balance seemed to go awry. These characters felt over-acted and scenes with all 4 characters together pushed the philosophical context into the background, with pantomime interactions demanding the majority of your attention.
In Act Two, the larger social, political, philosophical and theological ideas in Beckett’s writing really start to come through, and personally, I found this Act much more engaging. Again, the relationship between Gogo and Didi really shines here, and comedic moments here are tinged with melancholia and contemplation. Despite the strong second half, overall it was difficult not to leave feeling confused and exhausted, so maybe this play is best left up to true Samuel Beckett devotees.
Reviewed by Thomas Perks
Photography by Barry Rivett
WAITING FOR GODOT
is at The Arts Theatre until 23rd September