Waiting for Godot
Taking on arguably the greatest play of the 20th century is no mean feat, particularly given that, in Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, the surface simplicity is a mere cheeky masquerade for the complexities that lie within.
So, is Citizens’ Artistic Director Guy Hollands daunted by such a task? ‘Well, I’ve just done Hamlet!’ he says, ‘This play obviously presents a huge challenge because of the nature of the writing and the puzzle it contains. There is a lot of clowning, it’s very comic, yet it veers swiftly and the moods are constantly changing. It’s only daunting if you are working on something that doesn’t work, whereas you know this play works, so it’s about finding a way for it to work for us.’
Essentially a tale of two tramps by a roadside in which, infamously, ‘nothing happens’, Hollands insists the play won’t be dressed up. ‘We’ll try not to lay anything onto it that isn’t in the script,’ he says. ‘One of the great things about Beckett’s writing is its precision. There’s a country road, a tree, and it’s evening, so that’s what we have. It’s very stripped back, elegant and rather beautiful. If this play can’t speak for itself, what can?’
Waiting for Godot certainly fits with the Citizens’ remit to produce great works on its main stage, but Hollands also has an infectious personal enthusiasm for the piece. ‘It’s the start of modern drama,’ he says. ‘It’s the most important play of the 20th century, it’s a fantastic comedy; it’s just a brilliant, brilliant play.’