REVIEW: Waiting For Godot at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Waiting For Godot by London Classic Theatre at New Theatre Royal. Picture: Sheila Burnett
Waiting For Godot by London Classic Theatre at New Theatre Royal. Picture: Sheila Burnett
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On paper, Waiting for Godot is a play that shouldn’t exist. Nothing happens.

And that isn’t a criticism of the plot - it’s the truth.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is a classic, or even entertaining in the traditional sense

In the first act, Vladimir and Estragon wait in vain for Godot to turn up, and in the second act they do the same, but to no avail.

The storyline isn’t the only thing that’s sparse about this play; don’t expect much in the way of character backstories or settings.

This vagueness hasn’t stopped Samuel Beckett’s play from being described by critics as one of the most significant of the 20th century, and has facilitated a wide variety of interpretations, such as the production by London Classic Theatre on Saturday night.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is a classic, or even entertaining in the traditional sense. It is thought provoking, and by turns humorous and unsettling, which is a credit to the ensemble’s talent.

The most impressive moment of acting was by Michael Keane who played Lucky, a seemingly mute slave who briefly enters Vladimir and Estragon’s waiting game.

He is ordered by his tyrannical owner Pozzo to entertain their company by ‘thinking’ – and the ensuing monologue, Lucky’s only dialogue, is three minutes of theological babble delivered with such incomprehensible speed that the audience applauded at its conclusion.

The crowd was an odd blend of students who wished Beckett wasn’t on their syllabus and wine-quaffing intellectual types, for whom this was their Saturday night equivalent of I’m A Celeb and a curry.

The production was received warmly by them – and downright scaldingly by one gentleman, whose incessant hiccuping laugh and thigh-slapping at a shoe being put on or something equally as banal was funnier than the actors ever intended it to be.

To paraphrase Michael Winner: calm down dear, it’s only modernism.