Dazzling production of Beckett's tragi-comedy
Samuel Beckett's absurd tragi-comedy in two acts has been brought to the Festival by Galway-based company Druid and Tony-award winning director Gary Hynes in this exemplary production.
The set design by Francis O'Connor is sleek, with a heavy white illuminated border and a marble-grey background. A single bare tree sits slightly drooping, as if the wind has caught it, and casts a shadow across the dirt-bare stage floor. The frame makes the whole scene look like a postcard snap – a generic stock picture that nods to Beckett's directions that it could be set anywhere.
Vladimir (Marty Rea) and Estragon (Aaron Monaghan) flow through their random chatterings about boots, ailments and suicide with a physicality which is a revelation. Realised by movement director Nick Winston, the pair combine elements of slapstick and clowning which propel the hidden hilarity of the play. The actor's soft Irish accents also feel perfect in this production and it becomes hard to believe anyone would stage it without this as a necessity.
Bringing chaos to the tale, Rory Nolan plays Pozzo as a gross and camp man-child who devilishly manipulates the pair and treats Garrett Lombard's Lucky with a knowing evilness. When Pozzo proclaims 'but I am liberal in my nature', it seems eerily apt in 2018, as he professes his tolerant ways while holding his slave on a rope.
As the play ventures into act two and 'nothing happens, twice', the relationship between the two main characters is so warm and endearing that you almost forget they are waiting for something to happen. This dazzling production reinforces why staging the classics (well) is still necessary today.
Lyceum Theatre, until 12 Aug, 7.30pm (also 11 Aug, 2.30pm), £17–£35.