Monday, July 5, 2010

Waiting for Godot

On Friday I spent five hours at a rest home as my contribution to our annual 'Community Day' at work. On Saturday night I went to Waiting for Godot. Afterwards I mused that if the rest home installed a beautiful set and charged $100 a visit, it would be much the the same experience.

Image sourced here

I had to laugh at half time though, clearly many people did not know what they'd gotten themselves into. The woman sitting next to me asked, 'Is it half time?' in a tone that implied she was hoping it was actually the end and there just hadn't been a curtain call. In the bathroom I heard comments such as, 'Well it would be better if I could understand what they were saying!' (and seeing as the actors didn't have particularly thick accents and were speaking clearly and quite audibly I can only imagine this person meant she couldn't follow the sense of what they were saying) and 'Do you think the second half will be quite as long?'. I think a lot of people must have heard that (Sir) Ian McKellen was in a play and decided they'd better go, not realising that Beckett plays can be pretty tough going.

I hadn't been going to go because of the price until the last minute when my friend Ed emailed me saying he'd been umming and aahing about it for ages because it was so expensive, but that overseas productions of plays don't come to Wellington very often outside of the New Zealand International Arts Festival so it would be good to take advantage of it and maybe he'd just go (I think Mr. McKellen was also a draw card) and I thought, well, maybe I will too. I'm glad I did, it met my expectations, the set was bleak and beautiful (I tried to find an image of it but didn't have much luck, official production photos which give some idea can be found here), the actors were great - I especially loved Matthew Kelly as Pozzo. Yup, Matthew Kelly as in 'Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be...Mama Cass!' from the British Stars in Your Eyes. The script is very very clever and funny and sad and awful as well as infuriating and repetitive and I have to admit I almost fell asleep in the second half (it was 2 and a half hours long including an interval). But it did inspire some discussion between Ed and I during drinks afterwards about the meaning of the play and life in general, so I'd say Beckett was a pretty intelligent playwright.

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