City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Waiting For Godot

By Alex Eades - Posted on 18 April 2009

Waiting For Godot
Show Details
King's Theatre
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Sean Mathias (Director), Samuel Beckett (Writer), Stephen Brimson Lewis (Designer), Paul Pyant (Lighting Designer), Paul Groothuis (Sound Designer), Paul Warwick Griffin (Assistant Director), Patrick Molony (Production Manager), Wyn Howard-Thomas (Company Stage Manager), Duncan Newman (Costume Supervisor and Wardrobe).
Ian McKellen (Estragon), Patrick Stewart (Vladimir), Simon Callow (Pozzo), Ronald Pickup (Lucky).
Running time: 

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I first picked up a copy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot. A young, fresh-faced, if slightly ditsy, drama student with little on his mind but beer and girls. Good times. Then Godot came into my life and something changed. I still drank and chased girls, only now wearing a proudly owned second hand duffle coat, a book on Nietzsche tucked tightly under my arm and a roll up cigarette tipping loosely from my lips...I wanted to be taken seriously you see.

It pleases me to believe that I've grown up since then, but the impact of the play has stayed with me to this day. And it is this day, more than any other day, that I have been waiting for a very long time. My own personal Godot, if you like. Today I get to see Waiting For Godot on stage. An event that has somehow eluded me up until now. Will this change my life the way reading it did? Will everything become clear and enlightenment take me?

Who cares! Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are about to tread the boards!

The stage is beautiful in its bleakness. Rotten, tired and scarred by time this is a world struggling with its own existence and a world that reflects the sorry creatures that inhabit it. This all sounds very dark and depressing but, please, do not let that put you off. The gloom is broken by the show's two bright stars who shine beyond all despair.

McKellen's and Stewart's playful energy is endlessly impressive and an absolute joy to behold. To see two legends of stage and screen together and obviously enjoying themselves is worth the ticket price alone.

Throw in one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century and you have got something really special. The supporting cast are also brilliant. Ronald Pickup's mile long ramble about everything and nothing is one of the highlights of the night and a master class in not tripping over one's tongue. Hilarious and utterly brilliant.

Those familiar with the text may wonder about the level of humour in this production as clowning plays a large part in the performances. However, it remains deeply affecting. As tender and tragic as it is funny, and a testament to the human spirit in the face of nothingness. Sometimes a spoonful of sugar is needed to help the medicine go down.

Godot will do what it has always done, which is spark intense debate. The midnight oil will burn, the wine will flow and discussion will wander deep into the night. What McKellen and Stewart will do is tease people in that may not have ever heard of the play before.

Those who would not normally dip their toes in such murky, philosophical pools can end up cleansing themselves in it. Exchanging ideas, thoughts, beliefs and, if they're really lucky, end up somewhere they didn't even know existed. It invites them to think. And that can only ever be a good thing.

And what of me? Well, of course, I know who Godot is. I pull up the lapels of my duffle, light my finely fashioned pre rolled cigarette and disappear into the Edinburgh mist.

Times: Monday 13th to Saturday 18th April, 7.30pm