Waiting for Godot: Haymarket, London

UK production of Samuel Beckett's landmark play
Sean Matthias directs Beckett's Waiting for Godot until April 2010

Lyn Gardner reviews Sean Mathias's continuing production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, now with a modified cast:
There are broad smiles amid the catastrophe in Sean Mathias's ­production, which returns to the Haymarket with Roger Rees (Vladimir) and Matthew Kelly (Pozzo) joining original cast members Ian McKellen ­(Estragon) and Ronald Pickup (Lucky). Played out on an impressive crumbling theatre-within-a-theatre design by Stephen Brimson Lewis, in which the iconic tree pushes through the broken boards of a ravaged stage, Mathias's production suggests that the show really will go on endlessly for Estragon and Vladimir, a bottom-of-the-bill double act trapped in an epic drama with no beginning and no end. It's as if the Haymarket itself is falling down around our ears, and we are all buried inside, the survivors of some terrible calamity. Haiti, of course, now springs immediately to mind.

The brilliance of Beckett's play is that it is both non-specific and incredibly concrete, endlessly elusive and yet universal. With this quartet you feel the play's realness: they're not trying to embody metaphysics, they're acting people – people like ourselves who continue to wait, even as we ponder what we're waiting for. Is it for life to really start, or for death to finally claim us? This sense of realness is essential, and there is genuine pleasure in the way these four fine actors play effortlessly off each other as if they've known each other all their lives (which they probably have). They are easy with each other – generous, too. [Read the article]

Waiting for Godot is at the Haymarket Theatre in London until 3 April.

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