Went to see this a few nights ago, not knowing what to expect (The official blurb and synopsis is below). I went with a friend who had seen this a couple of times before with different casts and productions. He was super thrilled that I invited him along to this, especially with Sir Ian in it.
I was quite surprised to see that Ian McKellen had such good comic timing, not to mention portraying the rough sleeping tramp Estragon very convincingly. His 3 hat routine with Roger Rees was entertaining but out of place in the midst of the gloom of the storyline. Roger Rees played his character Vladimir with a little too much bounce and joie de vie for a downtrodden tramp. Mathew Kelly’s Pozzo was a camp and OTT interpretation and Ronald Pickup’s Lucky was a contrast to this brashness. All this was played out on a stage set as a backdrop to the bleakness of the situation.
Samuel Beckett’s original translation from the French tragicomedy shocked a lot of people with the theme of impermanence, a sense of impending doom (which wasn’t really that evident in this play). The underlying questions about the pitiful condition of humanity felt strangely apt even in 2010.
For a play where nothing happens, it was strangely riveting. I enjoyed watching the masterclass in acting of the cast, especially Ian McKellen. Excellent.
Waiting for Godot is showing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Ian McKellen, Roger Rees, Matthew Kelly and Ronald Pickup until
Waiting for Godot follows two consecutive days in the lives of tramps Vladimir and Estragon, who divert themselves by clowning around, joking and arguing, while waiting expectantly and unsuccessfully for the mysterious Godot.
Samuel Beckett’s surreal play exploded on to the London stage over 50 years ago when it shocked as many people as it delighted.
This production of Waiting For Godot returns to the Theatre Royal Haymarket where it was first seen earlier this summer, becoming one of the theatre events of the year. This time original stars Ian McKellen (Estragon) and Ronald Pickup (Lucky) are joined by Roger Rees (Vladimir) and Matthew Kelly (Pozzo).
McKellen, who made his Beckett debut in this production, is a hugely acclaimed screen and stage actor who has has worked extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. In recent years he has been seen on the London stage in such diverse roles as King Lear and Aladdin. McKellen is perhaps best known for his iconic portrayal of Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.
Rees, who partners McKellen in Waiting For Godot, is a multi-award-winning actor who has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End in productions including Nicholas Nickleby, for which he was awarded both a Laurence Olivier and Tony Award. He has also worked extensively in the US, where his screen credits include Frida, A Christmas Carol and The Pink Panther, as well as the series Cheers, Grey’s Anatomy and The West Wing.