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Waiting for Godot

Review by Mille Clarkes

To have such a play as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot performed here on PEI was a real treat. It is not the sort of play that most community theatre troupes would likely tackle. It is not an easy script; with its rambling seemingly nonsensical high-paced banter and abstract plot-line. ACT did the play justice.

All elements of the production were executed with simple effectiveness; from the lone sparse tree in the centre of the dark stage to the tattered every-man threads worn by the performers. The moment the lights went up, the audience was drawn into a place that is both somewhere and nowhere simultaneously. And that is certainly what Beckett intended; to portray somewhere and everywhere, someone and everyone, some day and every day.

There have been many debates over the meaning of Samuel Beckett’s play, but there is one explanation that is often overlooked: This is a play about life. Perhaps because this is such an obvious explanation, many have chosen to tweeze out more complex theories as to the intention behind Beckett’s snaking dialogue, confounding characters, and futile plot. It is a difficult thing to create a work of art that is about everything, a play that transcribes all of human experience, distills it to reflect what is at the core of our grapples with the universe, while concurrently depicting the superficial, farcical, bumbling of diurnal episodes. But this seems to be exactly what Beckett has done. It is a masterful work. The characters, waiting for an ambiguous entity (Could it be God? Could it be some sort of gratifying and decisive answer?) bide their time in what appears to be a wasteland. As they wait under a pervasive sense of unarticulated insidious oppression they go through the range of human interactivity—acting out the comedietragique that stuffs our daily routine. This play depicts so poetically those gestures, intentions, actions, and effects, that seem profoundly consequential to us humans. Yet, against the backdrop of bleak sameness and the unanswered dilemmas of consciousness and perception, are shown to be something like an overturned truck spinning its wheels. It is not a pessimistic portrayal of the human experience. There is no moral or comparative point being made. Waiting for Godot simply reflects and lends humor to the great and often lonely mystery. Godot never arrives.

The ACT troupe deftly danced through this challenging piece, delivering their lines and moving about the stage with a facility that allowed the nuances of the script to come to the foreground. Richard Haines as director controlled all the elements making it a very watch-able play. The performances of Adam Gauthier and Corin McFadden who played the main characters Estragon and Vladimir were seamless and fluid. Gerry Gray’s character Lucky pushed the humour quotient over the top, and Seb McFadden was very convincing as ‘Boy’.

Not an easy feat. Yet a feat none the less. Hopefully productions of this cerebral scope and professional caliber will continue to be produced by community theatre groups on our Island.

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