Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett
London Classic Theatre
Charter Theatre, Preston

Richard Heap (left) as Estragon and Peter Cadden, Vladimir, in London Classic Theatre’s Waiting for Godot

As befits a play where there’s “nothing to be done”—twice—this Godot is something of a play of two halves.

Samuel Beckett’s best-known creation, if not his best work, is given a competent outing in a London Classic Theatre touring production. There’s a generous four performances here near the middle of a comprehensive 40-date tour.

In the 15th year of touring a host of classic theatre performances to the provinces, LCT is to be warmly applauded. Smaller venues around the country would be waiting a long time for Godot, and a lot more besides, were it not for their diligence.

There’s a lot of craft put into this production, not least with Bel Palmer’s stage design stretching a few points with the standard scenery. Four trees—floating free of the floor—instead of one rooted to the stage, backed by a gallery of tarnished mirrors, and a floor area dotted with stepping stones which gives the characters a more deliberate movement about the stage. The way in which Sonja Zobel, as the Boy, skips across them is actually a delightfully arch counterpoint to the grumpy old tramps at the centre of the play.

In the first act, at least, Peter Cadden sets off at speed as Vladimir, when a little less urgency might let the audience tune into the poetry and rhythm of Beckett’s writing. Godot always works best when delivered with a comedian’s timing, and when silences actually become golden.

Richard Heap is a suitably bombastic Estragon to Vladimir’s more emollient role. Jonathan Ashley makes a raging Pozzo and Michael Keane is his crazed slave. Never was anyone worse named than this Lucky. His gibbering soliloquy here climaxes with him climbing over his fellow characters.

The shorter second act is much less rushed and ultimately triumphs in that it evokes genuine sympathy for the duo’s plight... whatever it is that ails them!

The joy of Godot will always be that you can colour it in with any personal philosopy, or just enjoy it all as abstract art.

Reviewer: David Upton