Waiting For Godot

Aug 6 2018 | By More

★★★★☆   Clearly impressive

Royal Lyceum Theatre: Fri 3–Sun 12 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Suffused with hope and hopelessness, Waiting For Godot at the Lyceum in the International Festival exemplifies all of the humanity and cruelty of Samuel Beckett’s landmark work.

Druid Theatre of Galway’s much garlanded version may not quite live up to its advance billing of ‘the best Godot this century’. However, anyone unfamiliar with the play would certainly understand from this production why it is still such an influential piece.

Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan. Waiting for Godot Druid Theatre of Galway At EIF 2018 Pic Ryan Buchanan

Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan. Pic: Ryan Buchanan

For it is certainly possible to divide the theatre of the last century into pre- and post-Godot phases, and the continuing influence of the play where ‘nothing happens, twice’ can still be seen in countless new works appearing today.

One of its fascinations is that the story of the two men who wait in a country road for someone who does not arrive, while bickering, making up and generally blathering, resists concrete explanation despite countless attempts. Successful productions tend to be those when the director does not try to make us ‘understand’ Beckett.

Instead, director Garry Hynes simply lays bare the play in all its starkness. This is an almost stately Godot at times, with Francis O’Connor’s huge scorched-earth box set fringed with light by James F. Ingalls.

Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan, as the central characters Vladimir and Estragon, are a beautifully matched pair. Rea, tetchily lanky, fizzes while the smaller, more considered Monaghan is more brooding. They are particularly good at evoking the ties and tensions between people who have known each other longer than they can remember.

exceptional portrayal

Hynes is very wise not to force the comedy, as some productions that should know better are wont to do. The overt music-hall elements and overplayed theatricality that have tended to creep in are toned down, and the humour arises out of the script and characters rather than being forced.

Rory Nolan, Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan and Marty Rea. Waiting for Godot Druid Theatre of Galway At EIF 2018 Pic Ryan Buchanan

Rory Nolan, Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan and Marty Rea. Pic Ryan Buchanan

There could not be such a thing as a definitive Godot, but it is fair to say this is a very good one – even if it is not necessarily any better than one seen at the Lyceum not so long ago, for example. What might well approach the ideal here, however, is Rory Nolan’s exceptional portrayal of the slave-driving Pozzo.

Nolan invests the character with the necessary diva-like craving for attention without being hammy. His brittle, self-serving insecurity is excellently done, and his famous final outburst a revelation.

Garrett Lombard’s Lucky does not quite reach such heights, with his bizarre quasi-academic tirade not quite achieving the compulsive strangeness or mystery some have brought to it. The Boy (a role shared by Angus and Finlay Alderson) has a compelling otherworldly stillness.

For anyone who has never quite understood the play’s significance, or who (perish the thought) has never seen Godot, this is an ideal starting point.

Running time 2 hours 35 minutes including one interval
Part of the Edinburgh International Festival
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX
Friday 3 – Sunday 12 August 2018
Daily at 7.30 pm (except Tuesday 7)
Matinees Sunday 5 & Saturday 11 at 2.30 pm
Book tickets on the EIF website: https://www.eif.co.uk/whats-on/2018/godot.

EIF Facebook: @EdintFest
Twitter: @edintfest


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