Review: Lana Harris
|A play about nothing? It sounds like a Seinfeld spin off, but Waiting for Godot was actually written almost sixty years ago. At the time, entertainment which focused on absolutely nothing was a revolutionary idea: post millennium we’ve been exposed to more than our fair share of popular media centred on not much more than ordinary people talking amongst themselves. But as tonight’s performance shows, nothing can still be a captivating, entertaining concept. Hosted by the Queensland Theatre Company in their Bille Brown Studio in West End, Waiting for Godot is delivered to a room packed with an appreciative audience.
Waiting for Godot opens with a man sitting on a log, trying to remove his shoe and blathering nonsense syllables as he does so, while the other stands with his back turned,
ignoring him. As the play unfolds, we learn that these two central characters, Vladimir (Bryan Probets) and Estragon (Eugene Gilfedder), are waiting for Godot. With half open shirts, poorly belted too-big pants, dirty overcoats and dirtier faces, they pass the time as they wait with conversation, arguments, philosophy and a range of eagerly embraced ‘distractions’. The longest lasting of their diversions comes in the form of the character Pozzo (Jonathon Brand) and his serf Lucky (Jonathon Brand), who enters the stage with a noose around his neck and Pozzo’s bag and hamper in his hands. The introduction of Pozzo reveals plenty about Vladimir and Estragon. When the two men first appear on stage, the dishevelled clothes, slightly erratic speech and time to wait and wait for a man they both struggle to remember are strong clues as to the type of men they might be. Pozzo is confident, articulate and considerably better dressed, highlighting the meekness and vulnerability of Vladimir and Estragon. Brand does an excellent job of playing the eccentric, confident and chaotic landowner, accentuating the neuroticism and easy excitability of the lingering transients.
The conversations undertaken are both ridiculous and sublime: a snippet about whether bad tasting food gets better or worse with time, a line of poetic verse, musings about whether perhaps there is a finite amount of tears in the world: when someone stops crying, somewhere, does someone else start? The thoughts are variously half formed, soft spoken, yelled and repeated. In the best tradition of powerful dialogue, it often appears that none of the characters are really paying attention to what the others are saying, although they all affect each other anyway.
The parity of the set, which contains nothing more than a broomstick tree and a moulded lump of log, is in line with the pared back storyline of the play. The lack of props adds weight to the sections where the characters question their reality: it’s hard to know if time really has passed when you have few physical markers with which to validate its existence, and nothing to show for time’s progression but another day of waiting in the memory bank. The words and distractions have all disappeared once the moon has risen.
While philosophical elements are present, the play is full of light moments as well: physical comedy and errors of understanding draw chuckles from the audience throughout, and the jerky topic changes and unexplored thought trails mean you’re never too far from another guffaw. It’s that balance of thought provoking and giggle inducing that makes Waiting for Godot, a play about nothing, impart that intangible something that makes for a successful artistic work.
Venue: Bille Brown Studio, 78 Montague Rd South Brisbane
Dates: 22 April – 7 May 2010
School Group Bookings: QTIX Groups on 07 3840 7127
Tickets $19.50 per student, $9 for an exclusive workshop after the show
General Public Bookings: QTIX 136 246 or www.qldtheatreco.com.au Tickets $30 – $42
Queensland Theatre Company
Full Show details here: Brisbane’s Waiting for Godot – 22 April – 7 May 2010