We enter to see Estragon perched on a low mound struggling unsuccessfully to remove his boots.
There is a single leaf-less tree.
The stage is spacious, the set minimal with lighting that changed only at moments of necessity (such as when night fell)
This will be the only introduction necessary for all those who have attempted (courageously) to read Samuel Beckett’s play by the same name that encourages its readership that nothing is certain.
Periscope Productions percolates on Beckett’s work and expresses a unique form of existential angst that is exacerbated by the uncertainty of time, place and memory.
Seeing the play in performance with much of the eccentric stage directions in use and a fair share of artistic licence by the directorial duo Natasha King and Emma Conley was much richer and more satisfying than the plot lets on; ‘Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes’.
The most gratifying moment of the night was when Estragon and Vladamir, played by Brendan McDougall and Alexander Thom respectively, exchange hats fluidly for a few minutes, producing a hypnotic beauty that almost resembled performance art.
The performance was split neatly into two halves. The first Act comprised of four separate occasions in which the actors cried, Estragon insisting on more than one occasion that ‘nothing is certain’ and Vladamir relieving himself (twice) to a round of applause initiated by the actors.
The second Act was equally worthy with writhing actors on the stage floor and silences punctuated by phrases that were yelled rather than spoken. This act had less onstage humour with cyclic repetition of scenes that manifested an eerie loss of time. The second half of the existential crisis sobered up and it did appear to drag with familiar rituals being repeated. I’m in two minds about how effectual this was in illustrating Beckett’s work.
Rachel Shrives plays a fitting tribute to the Pozzo of the script with a commanding entrance and a laugh that pierced silences with frightening reality. Her resounding voice shook Lucky out of his slumber as it did the audience members whose thoughts began to drift. The rapid changes in Pozzo’s moods are impressively portrayed as she elegantly transitions from a tearful breakdown to menacing laughter.
Lucky played by Rohan Byrne was riveting to watch in his silences while he kept us anticipating the delivery of his lengthy monologue. The dust that rose from his hat every time he removed it had a poignant air about it that was aesthetically appealing- referencing once again the frustrating uncertainty of the passage of time.
Finally, Jack Richardson played the ‘boy’ and his walk alone spoke volumes about the character he performed.
For all those of you who have not had a chance to read Beckett’s text, don’t bother just yet! Instead make your way down to the Guild theatre for one of the remaining performances of Waiting for Godot this week, every night at 7pm, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
The Guild Theatre, Union House: 25-28 March 2015
Photography: Felicia King