A huge portrait of Beckett ominously greets the audience as we enter Circa One. The familiar, bare set waits as the audience take their seats. Andrew Foster’s set design is minimal yet striking. The stage is a huge slab of rough concrete. A spindly tree has remarkably grown through the concrete cracks. Mounds of rocks extend the set as they lean against the sides of the stage. The gradient of amber light on the back wall brings the set to life and mirrors the autumn colour story of Wellington’s early evening.
The skilled cast laughs with the audience throughout, relishing in Beckett’s dark and meta-humour. Kingsford-Brown is particularly playful while Foster plays Didi with a dry wit. Peter Hambleton offers grand visual jokes in his portrayal of the pompous Pozzo. Pozzo has replaced his smoking pipe with a vape and often addresses the audience directly in a smug and booming voice. I craved more surprises in the otherwise faithful production.
Jack Buchanan plays Pozzo’s slave, Lucky. His character is stationery for the majority of the show but Buchanan shines brilliantly when Lucky is asked to dance and “think”. Borrowing moves from Elaine Benes, Buchanan performs a dramatic and hilarious interpretive “net” dance. He also delivers an extremely intense, nonsensical but utterly engaging monologue that won an applause on opening night. Lucky can’t break Pozzo’s chain but he does escape the fourth wall as he howls along the audience’s isles.
Both acts end in transitions to night by a rising full moon. The moon projection is crisp and enormous. The image is impressive but the quick animation and dramatic sound effect was jarring in between the soundless scenes. I wondered if the moon should have appeared slowly during both acts to mirror the theme of impending time.
I left wondering what meaning this very faithful rendition of the existential play evokes in me, here in 2019. Jolly’s production is a love letter to Beckett. I do wonder if more risks could have been taken and more surprises hidden in Beckett’s beloved play. Perhaps there is not much room for artistic changes in the strict script. But ultimately it is up to the individual to give this play meaning.
So, what are you waiting for? Waiting for Godot is on at Circa Theatre until 1 June. Book your tickets here.