U.K. Review: "Waiting for Godot" at The Lyceum, Edinburgh International Festival 2018

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Lewis Baird

  • United Kingdom Theatre Critic

During this year's festival there are so many new productions, however, there is also a momentous amount of already existing plays/musicals being performed. It's difficult to pick from the varied catalogue of productions. Therefore, I decided to see a new production of the Samuel Beckett classic, Waiting for Godot, as even though I have performed snippets of this show, I have not seen the play performed in full.

Waiting for Godot follows Estragon and Vladimir, who are standing on an empty road, waiting for a man called Godot. They are hoping he will save them and give them shelter. They discuss life, struggles, and feet. While also meeting the rather forward Pozzo and his slave, Lucky.

The acting in this production is simply stunning. Aaron Monaghan as Estragon and Marty Rea as Vladimir are a splendid duo. Aaron’s comic timing is brilliant, using Estragon's naivety as a device to supply humour was ingenious and hilarious. Marty’s depth with Vladimir was impressive, the thought process of the character was clear, also his desperation during the repetitive section of the play was tense and the audience really felt every emotion. The energy Aaron and Marty brought to the stage was spectacular, bringing the perfect pace so that the play drove on, but didn't miss anything. I was so engaged with both their performances.

Rory Nolan as Pozzo supplied a fantastic performance. Pozzo was the largest character in this production. The characterization was so intriguing, with so many layers of joy, knowledge and at points of the play, despair performed perfectly by Nolan. Garrett Lombard as Lucky supplied us with a character which represented more of the dark side of the play. The torture this character is going through is portrayed so accurately by Garrett, as at points it is uncomfortable to watch, even if the text is trying to make the scene more light-hearted, Garrett continuously gives us a reminder of the dark context in this play. Also notable mention, I have no idea how the hell Garrett managed to learn the monologue and perform it at such a quick pace but with perfect diction, bravo.

Twins, Angus and Finlay Alderson both share the role of boy. I believe it was Finlay who portrayed boy when I saw the play. He played the boy with such sombre which made the scene tense from the comedy before, it was a good portrayal.

Garry Hynes as director gives us a rather fresh production of Waiting for Godot. She indulges in these legendary characters of theatre and tries to add more contemporary themes to bring them to a 2018 audience. I believe this worked. The only issues I have is I feel Garry should have experimented more with the text. Also, there were some moments where Garry definitely missed an opportunity for more humour, plus I believe there were moments where the delivery did not match up with the context of the dialogue. But I love Garry's collaboration with Nick Winston as movement director. Nick's physicalization of these characters has almost a clowning stylisation, and I believe it works very effectively for Vladimir and Estragon. Plus Lucky's movement as a slave makes you exhausted just viewing. Visually you are hooked with how intriguing the movement in this piece is.

Another visually stunning section of this production is Francis O'Connor's design for the set. The minimalist style he has used, absolutely matches this piece, he has nailed the stylisation. He simply has a dirt ground on the stage, with a stone, a tree and a grey splattered backdrop. With also has a hovering translucent ball in front of it during the night to signify the evening. The set is complemented by James F Ingalls' naturalistic lighting design. Which effectively slowly turns from day into night. Plus Greg Clarke's realistic sound design which works for the comic sections of the play and also helps give the feeling of emptiness.

This production is the third I have seen at this year's Edinburgh Festival. Even though there are some minor issues, I believe the acting, direction and stylization of this production is gorgeous . I rate the production 4/5 stars. This year's festival is off to one hell of a start!

★★★★

Get tickets for Waiting for Godot below:

https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/waiting-for-godot-international-festival