Waiting For Godot hits the Royal Haymarket
Sean Mathias returns as director after a successful run in the west end last year with Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart. This year Ian Mckellen is back in his role as Estragon, and Ronald Pickup once again plays Lucky. This time they are joined by Matthew Kelly as Pozzo and Roger Rees as Vladimir.
Having read Waiting for Godot I knew there were elements of comedy throughout the play, but the play is meant to be seen, not just read. Mathias has successfully embraced the comedy of the play. Mckellen is as superb as ever, his every movement is in total sync with the character he is playing, his expressions and delivery are extremely charismatic and compelling, and his ability to deliver comedy is like no other.
The rest of the cast were equally brilliant in their parts. Roger Rees triumphantly encapsulated Vladimir’s philosophical nature, and he and Mckellen demonstrated the two tramps friendship and camaraderie beautifully.
Ronald Pickup maintained a constant powerful presence whenever he was on stage, although Lucky only speaks once, his movement and characterisation were strong.
Matthew Kelly was excellently grotesque. When I first heard Kelly would be part of the cast my only memories of him were on You Bet and Stars in your Eyes but he was fascinating in the role of Pozzo. He was incredible at being evil and demanding, but also delivered some very humorous actions and dialogue effectively. He truly embraced the role, and can seriously be accepted as a credible actor.
The set was fantastically eerie, which juxtaposed the sheer beauty of the Royal Haymarket. The costumes were very apt for each of the characters and clearly showed the class divisions.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed watching the production, as I hadn’t fully understood the dialogue and “in jokes” when I had read them. Some may criticise Mathias direction for focusing on the comedy, but Waiting for Godot is meant to be funny so why shouldn’t this be case? Besides there were some very touching moments in between the laughs.
To be honest I’m glad that Godot did not arrive, because it meant I got to see Mckellen’s (and the others) terrific performances for longer.