The most interesting feature of this production of the famous play by Samuel Beckett is the importance given to the audience. Curious Incidents Productions has decided that the spectators are going to surround the stage or, if you like, the actors are going to act among the spectators. In any case, this promises to bring a gust fresh air to the play, helping the audience to share the experience the characters are living themselves.
But what is this experience? The plot of the play is easily outlined: Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) wait. They are waiting for Godot, a mysterious presence (or better, absence) and that is what they do throughout the play, with a number of interruptions and distractions, provided by themselves and by other charachters. Waiting for Godot, defined by the New York Times ‘the most important play of the 20th century’, is perhaps a reflection on human condition. Perhaps. What is certain is that Curious Incidents Productions’ goal is to make it a “snapshot of real life”. The choice of having the audience surrounding the action has precisely this aim; namely bringing a new liveliness to the play. Last time I saw a production of Waiting for Godot the predominant feeling was one of (deliberate) boredom, both on stage and among the audience. But this adaptation has in it to give a new flavour to the play.
Seeing as there isn’t much to say about the plot, an essential feature of the production are the relationships between characters. The actors bring them to life thanks to their genuine mutual knowledge which, as they say, goes beyond rehearsals. Their chemistry is reflected in the acting itself, and undoubtedly adds a further realism to it, making the audience participating in and engaging with their interactions. Moreover, the will of the producer is not so much to stick to Beckett’s surreal and alienated human beings, but to break the playwright’s pessimism and present us with credible people, who actually react to what happens to them. And it is to these characters that the hard task of giving a meaning to the play is given. The fact that the play enacts a slow passing of time, and the characters’ own awareness/unawareness of it, prompt us to reflect about the time we spend waiting in our lives, the energy we invest in hopes and expectations we want to see fulfilled, and which may (or may not) come to being. But leaving philosophy aside, Waiting for Godot promises to be not only thought-provoking, but also (quite literally) absorbing. It is up to the audience to take part in this experience, and to join Didi and Gogo in their waiting.
Waiting for Godot runs at the Burton Taylor from Tuesday-Saturday of 2nd week. Tickets start at £5