-We’re waiting for Godot.
In just over two weeks I will turn 34, on the same day that will mark my 4-year anniversary of being a UK resident. Living in this country and working where I do has afforded me some truly bizarre and wonderful experiences. I have met Princess Anne, seen Leonard Cohen perform in front of a castle, spotted one of my favourite comedians (Dylan Moran) in a café, seen Mali’s most famous musicians in concert, mingled with military generals and brigadiers and majors, and attended a plethora of incredible theatre productions, including Peter Shaffer’s Equus and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s recent production of Hamlet.
And then there was last night.
I will always remember the moment I saw Ian McKellen’s hands creep up over the fallen wall, the grubby agile worms of his fingers serving as Estragon’s introduction.
JP had booked the tickets for Waiting for Godot, way back in January. Somehow he got us front row centre seats, so we could be right there to see Patrick Stewart’s stern bow furrow, or Simon Callow’s face bulge like a puffer fish during moments of exertion.
How did I get so lucky, to be just feet away from these power houses of British theatre? To sit beneath Lucky’s verbal downpour …for reasons unknown/time with tell/tennis of all kinds…and watch as Ronald Pickup forgot how to be Ronald Pickup and instead became the slave who was…lucky.
I regret not having studied the play beforehand. One of the reasons I got so much out of Hamlet was by being familiar with the story and many of the key lines and speeches. All I knew of Waiting for Godot was the very basic premise that it consisted mainly of two men who were waiting for someone who never shows up.
Because of this I felt as if I was both watching the play and missing it at the same time. A desperation to watch it again stayed with me for the entire two hours. Yet I knew I would not be able to watch it again -this was a once in a lifetime chance and it was flying past, even as the concept of time itself was being warped in front of me.
So much of the power of this play lies in all of the subtleties, the tone of voice and particularly body language. Watching Ian McKellen limp about on his sore foot was like watching a clock being wound. You get the sense that his very ligaments are being tugged at or mildly electrocuted.
McKellen and Stewart are a mesmerising team. Stewart’s approach to playing Vladimir was to treat the relationship between he and Estragon as a marriage. That’s how it felt - all that warmth and the moments when one or the other is quick to anger but quicker to forgive and oh, not to worry, tomorrow we’ll bring a bit of rope and hang ourselves. Unless Godot comes…
The experience of seeing these actors and this play has been sinking into me since last night. The best thing to come out of it is that I now love this play. I want to read it, see another production of it, read it again, call JP a sewer rat and hope he calls me a curate. But not a critic - never that.
So hurrah for all my adventures so far, and another hurrah for the future adventures for 2009, which include a trip to the Science Festival this Saturday to see Richard Dawkins, a holiday up north along the coast next month, another journey to Stratford to see Julius Caesar, and the Queen’s garden party this summer. Which reminds me, I really must buy a frock.
A Day Out.
11 hours ago