A review by Mutton Jeff, unpublished in hardcopy.
It was as though the playwright himself had ordained the weather for the outdoor performance of his resolutely external play, Waiting for Godot. The residue of at least two weeks of an unseasonably hot summer (it’s been a few years since we’ve known blue skies to be seasonable) hung like an evocation of the fug in which his characters exist – endlessly waiting for the enigmatic Godot. The performance was perfectly synchronised with the timing of the play’s setting at the waning of the day as a languid audience of around a hundred reclined under a cloudless sky in the garden of the Square as the ensemble laid before us, sometimes literally, Beckett’s masterpiece of social commentary.
Beckett achieved extraordinary things with this work, first performed in Paris in 1953 and still a benchmark of modernity. Like Joyce, his talent was for the paradox of coruscating tedium. In a nutshell Waiting for Godot is two afternoons in the lives of the disillusioned yet fatefully cheerful down-and-outers, Vladimir and Estragon, and their encounter with the extreme personae of Pozzo and Lucky.
Angus Brown and Steve Jacobs are inseparable as Vladimir and Estragon. To see them deftly treading the tightrope of tragicomedy, balancing Vaudevillian with Shakespearian (and Beckett demanded them both here), was to witness good old fashioned, robust stagecraft. Maybe they took a moment to warm up, but the set was soon crackling in preparation for the entry of Gloucester-like Pozzo, played with an admirable degree of arrogance by Ben Dyson, leading Ciaran Clarke as Godot’s philosophical protagonist, the hapless Lucky.
Inevitably, the Miracle mob has a website (linked below). On it, Brown and Dyson are fairly recognisable. Jacobs looks far too fit and healthy for ‘Gogo’ (seems they know a thing or two about estuary veins down in Redruth), but he’s there. Clarke’s mug-shot portrays him as an inoffensive-looking young man of thespian proportions, so it is to the credit of both the backstage entourage and his acting prowess that he should be so utterly, degradingly, repulsively pitiful as the slavering Lucky. Like a one-eyed black cat with three legs, the so-named Lucky embodies Beckett’s angry irony. You need know nothing of the play to realise his iconic, Herculean monologue is the pivotal scene; the hat is the tap that releases a stream of repetitions, tics and nonsense that coalesce into a shifting focus of rage against human nature, the systems of society and the critical failings of the individual. The soliloquy turns the play on its head – eloquent, poignant, in a terrible and deliberate hurry; a brutal deconstruction. Clarke played it pitch-perfect.
Congratulations to Bill Scott and the MTC, yet another serious bit of kit from them. At the time of writing, Godot is still touring the South; if for no other reason, tick it off your bucket, or is that Beckett, list. You simply will not be disappointed – it’s The Miracle Theatre Company.