Waiting For Godot
Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 8 Mar
Our thirst for enquiry may be waning in an age when answers are so readily available at the click of a mouse. But the Citizens’ company’s production of Beckett’s masterpiece, perhaps the least conclusive play of the 20th century, faithfully and expertly reminds us of the beauty in not knowing.
In a nondescript setting (there are clues, but to follow them defeats the point), two tramps (Kevin McMonagle and Gerry Mulgrew) wait for the infinitely elusive Godot, pondering life via perfectly crafted existential nonsense. The interruption of the inexplicable Pozzo (James Ryland) and his quivering accomplice Lucky (Keith MacPherson) bring further confusion and mayhem. Ultimately, the story began long before the audience arrived and will, we surmise, continue long after we have gone.
Guy Holland’s production bears all the hallmarks of accomplished and self-assured theatre. Avoiding gimmicks, this is a faithful interpretation that allows the text to do the talking. Jason Southgate’s considered set consists of an imposing tree on a bare, slanted stage, accompanied by equally measured and rather beautiful lighting effects from Graham Sutherland. In part this piece’s success is due to the strength of its cast, particularly the leads. Both Mulgrew and McMonagle, like their characters, appear to have been doing this for years, and succeed in portraying a tangible and often tender relationship despite the chaos. At times the slapstick clowning routines go on a tad too long to maintain the joke, but perhaps that’s the point. At once frustrating and hilarious, if this is the benchmark of the Citizens’ season of great classics, we are in for a treat.