This month Smock Alley Theatre is all abuzz with Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot being performed in the Main Space. Upon taking our seats we are met with a typically stripped back set, consisting of a single tree, however, the performances are anything but stripped back. Straight from the outset Vladimir and Estragon, played by Charlie Hughes and Donal Courtney respectively, are absolutely bubbling over with energy right from the get-go; there is never a dull moment, never a silence, never stillness.
The play centres around two men waiting by a tree for the titular Godot, and seemingly they are doomed to remain here until (that is, if) he does show up. It is a play more famously questioning the idea about existentialism, as with much of Beckett’s work. It is not what I would deem to be a typical Beckettian performance, very much giving a lot more strength and time to the farcical side of the play, which can sometimes be ignored in modern productions, so I can appreciate the decision of the director, Patrick Sutton, to go in this direction and commend the strong choices made here.
The action continues as Pozzo arrives on the scene, played by Ronan Dempsey, again we are met with a particularly comedic performance. This is in stark contrast to Simon Stewart’s performance as Lucky, who I must say completely stole the scene for me. Lucky’s speech is an iconic piece of text and Stewart completely does it justice and makes it his own, conveying the desperation of the character.
For a production which was plagued with such bad luck, (having had to replace one of their lead actors just days before opening night) it really is a testament to both cast and director in what they were able to create here; a masterpiece of the twentieth century, with strong performances and strong choices.