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Waiting for Godot

Godot: was it worth the wait?

After a long patient wait by performers, director and their audiences due to the effects of lockdown on the theatrical world, Waiting for Godot finally arrives at the Stables Theatre. And to much acclaim and laughter. Godot – typically – doesn’t turn up, but the actors give a sterling performance, combining vaudeville, physical theatre and brilliant comedic timing. You still have a chance to book tickets, with performances every night until Saturday. HOT’s Zelly Restorick and Stevie Stone report, after attending the opening night in Hastings. All images by Peter Mould.

From l to r: Jack Norris as The Boy, Patrick Kealey as Estragon, Billy Clarke as Vladimir, Henry Maynard as Pozzo and Francois Testory as Lucky

WAITING FOR GODOT

Directed by David Glass & performed by local theatre company, Theatre Nation

7 – 11 June at The Stables Theatre in Hastings

Book tickets here. Or via Theatre Nation’s website.

Beckett’s most-famous work has been baffling and delighting audiences in equal measure since it was first performed in the early 1950s — and director David Glass’s take on it ramps both emotional responses up to a whole other level.

Set against an apocalyptic minimalist backdrop and using light to maximum effect, the cast wring every last drop of nightmarish contradiction from Beckett’s allegory of the human condition.

Estragon and Vladimir

Vladimir (played by Billy Clarke) and Estragon (played by Patrick Kealey, Theatre Nation’s artistic director) can’t be with one another and can’t live without each other in a love-hate symbiosis. Echoes of tragi-comedy partnership, of Laurel and Hardy – who Samuel Beckett admired and respected – abound, with their dishevelled appearance, plenty of slapstick, rolling around in the dirt and symbolic hat swapping to counterbalance the often bleak underlying message. As Beckett said himself about Waiting for Godot: “It is a game, everything is a game”.

In this play revealing the meaningless futility of life, two misfits find meaning with each other.

Vladimir, The Boy and Estragon

They’re tired, they’re poverty-stricken, they’ve lost their rights, they’re hungry — with only a carrot, two turnips, a black radish and some bones discarded by Pozzo to eat and share, they’re happy, they want to hang themselves from the single stark tree on the stage, they want to leave for a new life somewhere else and leave each other, but they can’t . . . they’re waiting for Godot. A person they appear never to have met and to know very little about, apart from what the Boy – played by Jack Norris – tells them, who wryly assures them that Godot will be there tomorrow, always tomorrow.

Estragon and Vladimr: still waiting

Henry Maynard as Pozzo and Francois Testory as Lucky make a hugely impactful entrance onto the apocalyptic traditionally minimalist stage — with Lucky dressed in a scant silk dress, carrying Pozzo’s bags, rope hung round his body like an enslaved animal, whipped from behind by a bellowing Pozzo.

Maynard’s ebullient domineering performance in the first act only serves to emphasise his pathetic downfall in act two, as he reappears totally blind and helplessly dependent on his supposed slave.

Pozzo and Lucky make their entrance

David Glass said that he “wanted to return to its roots in vaudeville, silent movies, music hall verbal gymnastics and knock about, all forms that entertained and inspired Beckett… I wanted to build a ‘physical life’ to the play based on Lazzi – the often comical and danced enlivening elements of Commedia – which placed the performers in desperate beautiful prisons of comic idiocy and allow the performers to reveal their humanity through this web of ridiculousness . . . “. In this often physically demanding endeavour, he and the cast have succeeded brilliantly.

At one key point in the play Estragon remarks: “Nothing happens . . . no-one comes, no-one goes . . .  it’s awful!” Beckett’s genius is to turn this ironic absurdity completely on its head, as both cast and director gleefully embrace it to the limit.

“I wanted to entertain our audiences allowing them to laugh at the beautiful absurdity of everything and everyone. Now that truly is a reflection of the world and the time we are living in!”

Director, David Glass

Founded in 2017, Theatre Nation is a local professional theatre company – how lucky we are in Hastings – who are ‘committed to creating powerful, expressive and exciting adaptations of classic works — and to staging bold and original new writing’. They also provide educational, professional and creative employment opportunities for young people, students and early career theatre artists by offering professional experience in directing, performing, producing, writing and design.

Contemplating life, painful feet and ill-fitting shoes, Vladimir and Estragon

“We’re particularly interested in encouraging pathways into the arts where we live… The purpose of this is to inspire young people to see that a career and a life in the arts is possible for them, that there doesn’t need to be any distinction between them and the successful practitioners in the field.”

With this in mind, Theatre Nation is running Godot-related workshops at the Stables Theatre in Hastings and The Old Market in central Brighton. Find out more on facebook or via their website: Theatre Nation.

Previous HOT article : Godot! The wait is over

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Posted 14:20 Wednesday, Jun 8, 2022 In: Performance

2 Comments

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  1. Zelly Restorick

    Thank you for your insights, Bernard. Very much appreciated.

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Friday, Jun 10, 2022 @ 06:17

  2. Bernard McGinley

    Is Godot an allegory of the human condition? An additional way to look at it is as a documentary-realist account of life in Occupied France: travel by night to avoid patrols, sleep by day, eat from the fields, and never be surprised at the very strange people one meets or remeets, or what they might tell you.

    This is what Beckett and his future wife did in 1942, fleeing south from Paris after the Gestapo had smashed their Resistance group. For his work he was awarded the croix de guerre. Many friends and associates did not live so long.

    As Estragon says in the play, ‘No lack of void’.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Wednesday, Jun 8, 2022 @ 16:57

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