Review: Waiting for Godot, Tobacco Factory theatre

Published on: 27 Oct 2017

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REVIEW: Waiting for Godot, Tobacco Factory theatre

WAITING for Godot is one of the best-known plays of all time, famous for being the drama in which nothing happens.

It’s a play which most theatregoers feel they know well. That, is until you see it performed, when you realise that it’s not about nothing, not at all; and actually you know nothing about it.

That at least was my experience on seeing this fizzing production at the Tobacco Factory, directed by Mark Roseblatt. 

The setting is well known: a stage bare except for a forlorn tree, and Vladimir and Estragon, two characters in grimy clothes waiting, and waiting, for the arrival of Godot. They have no money, little food, and no other friends.

Every night, Estragon gets beaten up; he expects it, and isn’t curious about who’s doing it. Their only occupation is to wait; Godot may find them some work, but it doesn’t sound as if he is a generous employer.

It would be so easy to stage this as a lamentation, a dreary progress from hope to boredom and despair. But Beckett’s text is crackling with energy and humour, and so does this production.

Estragon: That's the idea, let's contradict each other.

Vladmir: Impossible.

Estragon: You think so? 

And so on, continuously saying nothing and yet affirming something – that in the midst of despair, in a world where most people are being exploited, we find comfort in each other, even when we enrage each other. Director Rosenblatt says Waiting For Godot is about  “the stories we tell each ourselves to cope with life’s  challenges and how we use your imaginations to find hope, and even joy, in hopeless situations”.

The performances are first-rate: Factory theatre regular Chris Bianchi shines as the wretched Lucky, a slave whose part is mostly silent except for a heroic outburst. Colin Connor as Estragon and David Fielder as Vladimir are utterly convincing, and gloriously alive in the worst of circumstances.

As the old Austrian saying goes, the situation is desperate, but not serious.

If you visit the theatre once a year, make this your choice. Be quick; it’s on until November 4. Paul Breeden

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