Theatre review: Waiting for Godot at the Arcola Theatre
PUBLISHED: 06:55 22 May 2014
Ex-Eton school master Simon Dormandy brings us this new production of the absurdist Irish play Waiting for Godot, starring two of his former pupils, Tom Stourton and Tom Palmer.
In Dormandy’s fringe production, at the Arcola theatre in Dalston, two vaudevillians, Vladimir and Estragon, wait in a desolate wasteland for a man they’ve never met, hoping against all proof that now, as night closes in and their patter runs dry, they may finally catch a break.
In contrast to previous enactments, the two main characters are young men in their twenties. Dressed in baseball caps and dishevelled in appearance, they use insults and jokes to pass the time, whilst waiting for the man who never comes.
The banality of the waiting is broken up by the passing visit of a cruel capitalist, Pozzo, and his hapless slave Lucky. Pozzo, (Jonathan Oliver) is a bellowing man dripping in gold jewellery on the way to market to sell his slave. He appears driving the heavily-laden Lucky (Michael Roberts) along with a long whip, then proceeds to converse with the two men, sadistically making Lucky dance and “think” for them. Following this, an Eastern European goatherd boy appears (Adam Charteris), who says has actually met Godot. Stourton and Palmer, of E4 double act Totally Tom, bring in modern day references and add fresh comedic elements to the routines, pulling poses and switching hats with one another, drawing laughs aplenty from the audience. But it is still pretty clear that the two are based on Laurel and Hardy, as in the original. Patrick Kinmonth’s bleak set provides a suitably foreboding backdrop for this play in which nothing happens, twice.
There’s a lot of slapstick and physical humour here and although the political subtext of the original play is also present, the light-hearted side is uppermost. Great fun, this is recommended.
Rating: Four stars
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