What’s it all about?
Ester and Val sit amongst boxes of socks, stuffed animals and sewing kits, rails of dusty un-used costumes and a myriad of seemingly useless props waiting, as understudies do, for their moment in the limelight.
As the hapless pair contemplate circumstances that could lead to them treading the boards – ‘A light could fall; someone could get sick or fired.’ – Ester offers Val misguided and ill-informed advice on how to improve his acting and become a successful and established artist. As time passes and multiple mishaps ensue, the two begin to question whether being on stage is really what they want after all.
Who’s in it?
The play for the most part feels like a two hander with Simon Day’s Ester and James Marlowe’s Val dominating the stage with moments of quick overlapping dialogue, lingering silences and beautiful comedic sequences that demand a certain level of physicality from the actors. These moments are broken when the audience is reminded that Ester and Val are not the only living, breathing bodies backstage at the theatre with the entrance of Assistant Stage Manager Laura, played by Laura Kirman, whose character brings a fresh contrast to the bumbling understudies.
The creative team behind the show also deserve a mention here. The writer, Dave Hanson, an American playwright, gives a fresh and new take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, finding an interesting parallel to the original tale in the world of theatre. The show’s director Mark Bell has in recent years directed The Comedy About A Bank Robbery and The Play That Goes Wrong, and his comic touch is stamped clearly on the show.
What should I look out for?
If the audiences’ eruption of applause is anything to go by then it would have to be Laura’s of the prompt book. Laura loses her cool with Val as he insists that acting is the most difficult job in theatre. She rebuffs Val’s comments noting that “actors wear clothes that someone else made, stand where someone else tells them to whilst saying words that someone else wrote” and that really “anyone can do it.” She proves her point by turning her prompts into a faux-dramatic monologue.
Mark Bell’s ability to morph the set into a character of its own. In line with The Comedy About A Bank Robbery and The Play That Goes Wrong (although on a smaller scale), Waiting For Waiting For Godot finds its forth character in the set. There are some truly hilarious moments with an ironing board that attest to Mark’s innate comic timing.
In a nutshell?
Waiting For Waiting For Godot is sharp, witty and a joy to watch.
Will I like it?
There are in jokes aplenty for hardened theatre fans, and the peek behind the curtain at life backstage will have anyone in stiches.
Waiting For Waiting For Godot runs at the St James studio until 24 September. For more information and to book tickets visit the show’s official website.