Considered to be one of the greatest plays ever written, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot is famously a play about nothing. Twice. Two characters wait for the titular character to arrive and as they wait, they meet some other travellers on the road before being informed that Godot will not, in fact, be coming. It’s a play that’s been interpreted in so many ways over the years that there’s a temptation for some companies to try to find something ‘new’ in the piece or to force their own political, religious or social message onto the script. Director and co-founder of Druid Theatre, Garry Hynes, has not given in to this temptation and has presented a stunning staging of this famous play that leaves open all the opportunities to question the reality and experiences of the figures onstage.
A stunning staging of this famous play
Aaron Monaghan’s Estragon is a hangdog, beaten-down man with ill-fitting boots and a short memory. The portrayal is perfection and his ability to go from lethargic apathy to furious fanaticism in a heartbeat is a delight. Playing against him is Marty Rea’s magnanimous and thoughtful Vladimir, the perfect foil and friend who, when he’s not running offstage to deal with his troublesome bladder, is a constant companion. The two have an effortless chemistry and their back and forth dialogue (performed with lyrical Irish lilt - perfect for these characters) is delightful. Hynes has cast actors with true comedic skill in the principal roles and it’s wonderful to have Beckett’s genuinely funny script played so well.
Our two down-and-outs are soon joined by Pozzo and Lucky, played by Rory Nolan and Garrett Lombard respectively, who crash into the scene bringing bombast and more confusion for all. Nolan is a powerful presence on stage and his Pozzo is a giant, arrogant man-child resplendent in tweed and boots. His slave, Lucky, is another massive beast of a man in the form of Lombard who takes a role with very little to say and creates such a memorable character that, when he finally gets to unleash his monologue of knowledge upon the audience, there’s a sudden short applause.
The set and lighting design compliment the talented actors and deserve mention. The framing of the stage with lighting creates even more of a sense of the unreal and adds to the bland location with its dry, sandy ground and beautiful desolation. The use of shadow and silhouette at key moments is gorgeous and any moment in this play could be photographed, framed and placed in a gallery.
Waiting For Godot may be a play about nothing but Druid have taken it and made it something very special.