Home > Recent Projects > Waiting for Godot > Sunday Star-Times Review


Waiting for Godot

Sunday Star-Times Review 6 October 2002



Two Tramps, a Tree, and a Long Wait--Still Absurd After All These Years

Directed by Colin McColl
Maidment Theatre, Auckland Theatre
Company, until November 2.
Reviewer:  Gilbert Wong

A great raised strip of a road runs across a stage, flanked by three huge backdrops showing photo-realistic grey cloudy skies.  Up front is a lonely telegraph pole, serving as the tree where the two tramps Vladimir (Raymond Hawthorne) and Estragon (Michael Hurst) wait for the enigmatic Godot.  The unhappy pair lie trapped in some surrealist limbo that could be any time and any place.

John Parker's set is like a piece of well-crafted installation art for this most difficult of plays.  Samuel Beckett's play is difficult because it dispenses with the traditional structures and expectations of theatre.  Plot, narrative and denouement, among much else, disappear, to be replaced with what we might today call a series of loops and cuts of emotion, action and dialogue that hint at meaning even as they subvert our every attempt to make definitive sense of what we are experiencing.

Hawthorne's Vladimir is a pair of skinny, fretful legs with a majestic, hectoring voice on top.  Hurst as Estragon is a rubbery vaudevillian fool, leaping about the stage with the easy grace of a physical comedian.  Beckett appropriated Marx  Brothers and silent film routines and Hurst happily takes every schtick handed him.  Neither actor missed a beat, but we are left admiring technique rather than performance.  Vladimir and Estragon are twinned souls in search of completion.  It's meant to be an absurdist joke but the audience's laughs are sporadic and unsure.

The arrival of the bullying Posso (Paul Barrett) and his whipping boy Lucky (Jon Brazier) could be the tramps' salvation.  Is one of them Godot?  Barrett has a grand, booming presence.  Brazier elicits every sympathy and in one scene resembles Christ awaiting crucifixion.  Our characters might be in hell.  Or they might be fragments of human ennui and despair.  Or they might not.  Waiting for Godot continues to provoke conundrums about existence almost half a century after it was first performed.  It continues to challenge actors as much as it does audiences.

Return to Waiting for Godot page

Home  Recent Projects Future Projects