This post was originally written on 17th June, 2009.
Tonight we went to watch Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a tragi-comedy. (Also see my review of Krapp’s Last Tape.) The production stars Ian McKellen (Estragon) and Patrick Stewart (Vladimir). I really enjoyed the show, especially Ian McKellen who was very funny and endearing. I was also deeply moved by the overpowering sadness of the play. I found the second act in which Pozzo (played by Simon Callow) and Lucky (played by Ronald Pickup) return particularly disturbing, as they come back blind and deaf respectively. They seem to have changed drastically from before. These changes suggest many possibilities for the fate of the characters. How long have Estragon and Vladimir been waiting? Is it only one day as Vladimir insists, or has it been much longer? Do Vladimir and Estragon even exist? In the end, Pozzo cannot see Vladimir and Estragon; and Lucky cannot speak to the tramps. Worse, Estragon’s memories are fading and Vladimir requires reassurance from the boys who come with Godot’s message that they can actually see him.
Finally, I found Lucky’s speech at the end of the first act very engaging. The idea that he can only speak under certain circumstances is heart-breaking. When the hat is put on his head, thus enabling him to speak his thoughts, he begins speaking as if it were his only chance to say everything that is in his mind. Watching him endlessly pouring out words that at first seem only half intelligible reminds me of some occassions when I tried to make my ideas understood and failed.
The full text of Waiting for Godot.
From the play:
(suddenly furious.) Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? (Calmer.) They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more. — Pozzo in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
3 Responses “Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket” →
June 17, 2009
Gosh! I’ve to see this now…:)
June 18, 2009
Did you just oh so casually and in passing mention that you saw a live production (of anything!!!!) with both Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart? Shizer, I got to get me to London.
June 18, 2009
Lawrence G. commented on Facebook: “And now you have to read The Trilogy, followed by a crash course of Pinter and Coetzee. And then head off to Thomas Love Peacock and Laurence Sterne rather than Joyce.”
Waiting For Godot
The Genius of Samuel Beckett
Absurdity and Existential Angst
Interlaced with Humanity and Deity
Take for instance this interchange:
And yet . . . (pause) . . . how is it
–this is not boring you I hope–
how is it that of the four Evangelists
only one speaks of a thief being saved.
The four of them were there
and only one speaks of a thief being saved.
Come on, Gogo, return the ball,
can't you, once in a way?
(with exaggerated enthusiasm).
I find this really most extraordinarily interesting.
One out of four.
Of the other three,
two don't mention any thieves at all
and the third says that both of them abused him.
What's all this about?
Because he wouldn't save them.
I thought you said hell.
From death, from death.
Well what of it?
Then the two of them must have been damned.
And why not?
But one of the four says that
one of the two was saved.
Well? They don't agree
and that's all there is to it.
But all four were there.
And only one speaks of a thief being saved.
Why believe him rather than the others?
Who believes him?
It's the only version they know.
People are bloody ignorant apes.”
One imagines these two as buffoons
And rightly so, for they are
Yet we should also see ourselves
Reflected in their buffoonery
For we too are as lost as they are
We too know we will die
We too are lost in the wilderness
We too can see the paradox of the Word
The Word of the Bible
Whether the word comes from God or Godot
We are always left waiting to be saved
We too are waiting for Godot to save us
And all we can do is Wait and Wait
Wait with our fellow humans
Here in this urban wilderness
In our existential folly
In the absurdity of life