Waiting For Godot at Smock Alley: a review

Here it is the review of the production of Waiting For Godot at Smock Alley Theatre.

Beckett in the times of Star Rating…

Just a few days before to go to see Waiting For Godot I stumbled on a blogpost which collected from books – related social networks very bad strictures for some of the most important literature masterpieces.

It seems that the very first example of star-rating system has been invented in 1915 by Edward O’Brien for a collection of Short Stories (they were asterisks more than stars, at least…).

The star-rating system spreaded to books, hotels, restaurants, movies… No complaints: nothing personal against the stars… But the problem seems to be that, meanwhile the democratic star-rating was in expansion, maybe the attention in attributing the f*ing stars was appalling decreasing…

Or, even worse, what was decreasing was the willingness and ability to rate whatever with something more than a just because I want so, right here right now way. Just to say that what is a masterpiece for the mankind is just bullsh*ts for me.

So I went for Waiting For Godot at Smock Alley after the reading of some very bad reviews and “1 star” rating of what is probably the most important  play of the Twentieth Century.

Some people rated 1 star Godot. They are not the majority, for sure, but there they are.

But I had been struck by a review in particular.

An “1 star” one, of course. The author, a social media user,  was employing several lines of  nonsense rant to review Beckett’s Godot as… Well:  just bullsh*ts.

The very first thing that came to my mind has been just a bad novel plot:

Beckett-obsessed serial killer locates and kills (by hanging them from a tree in full moon nights, ça va sans dire) detractors of the Master after finding them on social networks.

But what happened next? I envied mister justonestarforbeckett. Because the only one reason to not understand what Waiting For Godot is about, it is to have been so lucky that you have never been in the same very unenviable situation of Vladimir and Estragon: without a past and, what’s worse, without a future.

Well, actually there can be another reason: if you have as such empathy as an Ikea kitchen drawer. But I am going off topic…

The exactitude of Waiting For Godot at Smock Alley

waiting for godot at smock alley

And that feeling (ok, you have to be a bit empathic to feel it) is absolutely part of this edition of Waiting For Godot: that feeling of  nothing happening, even more than twice….

The ID of this run:

  • Direction: Patrick Sutton;
  • Cast: Charlie Hughes, Donal Courtney, Simon Stewart, Ronan Dempsey, Torsten Brescanu & Rory Smyth;
  • Set & lighting: Colm McNally;
  • Photography: Jim Byrne.

Charlie Hughes and Donal Courtney are Vladimir and Estragon. Smock Alley Theatre is quite a small one, so the breaking of the fourth wall, a very beckettian topic, is even easier to achieve: the actors managed the stage and the proscenium perfectly, with some encroachment between the audience.

I got more connected with Hughes: I really enjoyed his reiteration of facial expressions and movements (in a play that is a lot about reiteration…). Ronan Dempsey is Pozzo: he has been a little bit “over the top”, in my humble opinion, or maybe I am simply not objective as I really, absolutely enjoyed Pozzo’s counterparty, the brilliant Simon Stewart‘s Lucky.

I think Lucky is the most difficult to play of the four characters: he has less opportunities, he needs a more physical acting, he has just only one “big moment”, and if the actor doesn’t grip it, he looses the whole night, but, well, Stewart has been perfect in his “big moment”.

In conclusion: an extremely solid running, with Pozzo exploring more grotesque landscapes but loosing against Lucky.

A running which achieve the goal to reveal all the anguish of the useless wait that life is, that black hole which is the center of gravity of the beckettian machinery.

About QRob

Massimiliano "Q-ROB" Roveri writes on and about Internet since 1997. A philosopher lent to the IT world blogs, shares (and teaches how to blog and share) between Ireland and Italy.

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