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I saw this play in London back in February 2010 (when it did it's extended run due to popular demand) It was first show back in 2009 at the Haymarket theatre in London (near Trafalgar square) with Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart, Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup. I tried to get tickets to the 2009 run but I was so disappointed when I found out that all tickets for all shows had been sold out. But in the new year I found out it was back to due popular demand! I was so excited and rang up the theatre for some tickets and managed to get two for 20th February matinee. But the performance I went to see...Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow had been replaced by Roger Rees and Matthew Kelly due to Stewart and Callow doing other comittments. But Mckellen and Pickup reprise their roles. cast Ian Mckellen as Estragon Roger Rees as Vladimir Matthew Kelly as Pozzo Ronald Pickup as Lucky performance is two and a half hours long including an interval (20 minutes) The story line: Two tramps named Estragon and Vladimir are waiting in a blank space (stage) who wait for a man named Godot. However, the tramps do not know when Godot will turn up or will he ever turn up. So to pass the time, they talk, sleep, eat, argue, play games, sing, exercise and attempt to commit suicide anything they could think of. During the time, they are interupted by a man named Pozzo and his slave Lucky. Pozzo calls him 'pig.' However, a boy turns up and Vladimir asks the boy if he knows Godot or has something to do with Godot. But will Godot ever turn up? Does the boy really know or have anything to do with Godot? Will the two tramps commit suicide? The opening was brilliant as their was a wind blowing before the start of the performance to make the audience feel that they are part of the atomsphere of the performance. The set was very different from most performances i've seen as the floor was scattered in leaves and this was by using lighting (which isn't used much in most performances) All actors did fantastic, mind-blowing performances of their characters. If I was to ever see this, at a local theatre or by a smaller company I may not have understood the show as much as if I saw this one. Even though, Samuel Beckett's work is very difficult to understand clearly, this production really helped me understand Beckett's work and how he uses topics such as religion in his work. Sadly, the run finished in April 2010 - but if this was to ever be performed again - grab tickets it's a must see theatre experience 5 out of 5 stars, but if there was 10 the 10 out of ten stars.
I read this play as part of the curriculum of my graduate course. Despite the play lacks a plot but still the play is very amusing. The play seems to have neither the beginning nor any end. The play begins with two tramps, Estragon and Vladimir waiting for a person named Godot. The play comprises of two Acts and in both the Acts the two tramps keeps on waiting for Godot, who never comes. They do not know the time or place of the appointment nor they have ever seen Godot. The play only have male characters. The talks between the two tramps are funny and also sad. The play would have been endless even if there were 10 more acts in the play as they would still keep waiting for Godot. The plot does not seem to change between acts. The only change we see is that they spend the day talking about certain things forgetting almost everything they talked the previous day. What really amuses the reader are the comic and tragic elements of the play.
When I saw the actors playing the main roles for this - Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, I knew this was a play I had to see. This sold-out quickly but was lucky enough to be on the phone for a few hours the day the tickets were on sale so I was only a few rows back on opening night. The plot is simple enough - two men - Vladimir (Stewart) and Estragon (McKellen) wait at a country road beside a tree waiting for a man they call Godot. Throughout the play it is not clear who Godot is or why they want to talk to him. While waiting they meet Pozzo (played by Simon Callow) and his servant who keeps tied to a rope and pulls along (played by Ronald Pickup). The theatre itself is a beautiful building and I felt everyone was waiting with anticipation for the opening - even the standing parts were packed and every seat taken. The set design as I walked in was breath-taking. The whole play is set in one place but the stage was amazing. I wish I could post a photograph of it to show how good it was but it was bleak, grey and one twisted tree stood in the middle, coming through some broken boards. The lighting was exceptional and it felt like I was in another place at midnight - it was almost magical (but very haunting) as if we were all waiting for Godot ourselves. The opening 15-20 minutes focuses on the two main characters. At first it was difficult to stop thinking of them as two famous actors but only for a minute - they are both such good actors that you are soon transported back to the story. It is presented as a tragicomedy but for the first act, it really is more amusing. There are various types of humour used such as slapstick, puns and visual humour - McKellen I thought was the funnier of the two, but I think that is because of the character rather then himself. I did find myself thinking he was the better actor, while Patrick Stewart is amazing as well, I felt at times he slightly over-acted while it seems to come more naturally to Ian McKellen. The play changes gear when Pozzo arrives. I was absolutely astounded at how good Simon Callow is, as he wasn't on the original billing, I was so pleased at the bonus of seeing him on stage as well as he is one of my favourite actors. He had such stage presence - that was probably partly due to his costume as well which should out from the rest of the intentionally drab costumes of the others - but he delivered every line so powerfully that for me, he was the real gem in this play and I couldn't stop watching him when he was on stage. Imagine almost forgetting that Ian McKellen was there as well! Ronald Pickup was very good as Lucky but this is a character I find tedious at times - despite how badly he is treated. He did a very impressive monologue though and this earned him a huge round of applause. As the second act unfolds I felt more tense as it became more serious. You end up feeling very sorry for the main characters and they are left with no real resolution. Critics have tried to analyse Beckett's play such as with religious or political interpretations but for me this is a play about ageing and life passing people by. It also shows the warmth between two men - who have had a friendship for over 50 years. However, you intepret the play though this was an unforgettable experience seeing four natural actors in the limelight. Simply Wonderful!