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Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot at the Barbican, London. Photo: Barbican Waiting for Godot at the Barbican, London. Photo: Barbican

This Waiting for Godot nearly floats off the stage it’s so light and fleet of foot. At nearly three hours, it flies by, but Andrew Upton’s production is anything but flighty. With profound pathos it illuminates the tragic epicentre of Beckett’s masterpiece, shooting arrows into the heart that take hold and won’t come loose.

Underpinning it all – from Zsolt Khell’s bleak music hall shell design to the cast’s naturalistic delivery – is a marked simplicity that enables Beckett’s socially astute absurdism to take centre stage.

Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving’s tender partnership is a treasure. Weaving’s Vladimir is a heel clicking, nimble leader, his stance and manner that of a faded rock star. Roxburgh’s Estragon is anything but simple, instead showing an intuitive wisdom that feels more in tune with their bleak world than Vladimir’s cerebral contentions. Together they play the vaudevillian fools beautifully, utterly on beat with each clownish turn.

Philip Quast’s Pozzo bristles with bombast but also a rather bemused charm while Luke Mullins as Lucky is genuinely disquieting as the snorting, painstaking slave.

It’s a shame that the abrupt blackout at the end – leaving no room to see that this pair, despite their desperate protestations, is going nowhere – feels brash, but it is the one foul note in an otherwise pitch perfect piece.

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Verdict
A nimble production of Waiting for Godot that allows Beckett’s astute absurdism to take centre stage
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Honour Bayes is a freelance arts journalist who has written extensively for The Stage and had work published in the Guardian, Independent, Time Out, Exeunt Magazine and The Church Times. She is currently Associate Editor on Chinese arts magazine ArtZip and has worked as web editor for the Royal College of Art, managing its arts and design coverage.
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