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An unforgettable night with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart
Waiting for Godot
Member Name: ps8sjk
Waiting for Godot
Advantages: Wonderful, amazing, perfect
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!
Summary: One of theatre's finest productions
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