Tuesday 12 September 2017

Godot: The Wait is Over - Theatre Review

What: Godot: The Wait Is Over
When: 7 - 17 September 2017
Where La Mama Courthouse
Written by: Ian Robinson
Directed by Ezy D
Performed by: Ezekiel Day, Cherian Jacob, Rebecca Morton, and Suhasini Seelin

Cherian Jacob, Ezekiel Day, Rebecca Morton, and Suhasini Seelin

Ah Beckett. A playwright who continually befuddles, bewilders, beguiles, and bewitches theatre makers everywhere. Everybody want to direct him, act in him, and adapt him. The thing no one seems to want to do is produce him as written. Godot: The Wait Is Over is a child of Beckett's Waiting For Godot and is playing at La Mama Courthouse until 17th September.

To be fair Godot: The Wait Is Over is a fan fiction sequel, not an adaptation, so I shall restrain my usual tirade about people not trusting playwrights blah, blah, blah.  Instead I shall acknowledge Robeinson's play as the massive complement it is whilst also acknowledging he could not have set himself a harder task if he tried.

The sire Waiting For Godot is an existential angst play usually classified as Theatre of The Absurd although I would tend to call it surrealist. Estragon (Day) and Vladimir (Jacob) sit in wait of an unknown yet expected Godot (Morton). Enter Lucky (Morton), Pozzo (Seelin), and The Boy (Seelin). After some explorations of power Beckett has the pair continue on their treadmill of waiting always looking for the easy way out but never actually willing to do what it takes to change the status quo.

Robinson's play has all the elements of the play and, perhaps slavishly, follows the form and structure of it's forebear. As well as the players we also have the boot, the tree and even the rope makes a guest appearance in the set. Instead of questions about purpose and intent however, Robinson has the cast addressing very modern issues such as the environment, the eternal questions about whether there is a god and if there is, is God female? He also appears to play with issues of disability...?

Unfortunately what Robinson does not achieve with Godot: The Wait Is Over is a continuation of Beckett's conversation about knowing and not knowing. Beckett had just emerged from the second World War and a long association with James Joyce. The one great truth he had come to was the thought that he knew nothing and he continually questions whether there is anything to actually know in all of his subsequent work.

What makes Waiting For Godot great is it is a tangled ball of questions and the dangers of stagnation whilst lost in confusion. Godot: The Wait Is Over, on the other hand, seems to have filled itself with a whole bunch of answers. Whereas in the Beckett Estragon and Vladimir are lost in an limbo of uncertaintly, in the Robinson they come across instead as a pair who are wilfully obtuse. Perhaps that is Robinson's intention. Unfortunately the consequence is that whilst the Beckett results in unending consequent conversation and query, Robinson leaves us nothing more to talk about.

Having said all that, the commitment to form in the play is very impressive but I did feel the second act ended up strangling itself in the form. It really did begin to feel the playwright had 'segments' to fill which caused the play to lose any sense of purpose and intent. It also speaks to much to the question of God. Beckett is clear Godot is not God but Robinson seems to either not be aware of this or to have chosen to ignore it. (He also wrote this to include women as a reaction to Beckett's angst about this but in the end it is not an especially relevant inclusion except in the Godot scene - a pointless feminist statement at best).

The production itself has been directed beautifully by Ezy D (Day). Day has a wonderful eye for staging and physicality and he allows the cast to explore themselves and their bodies in the space well. What it does lack is pace and vocal dynamic. We again find ourselves in the trap of playing non-realist theatre in a realist form. When will Melbourne theatre learn?

The acting is very good and I did find myself very engaged by Seelin. Day also had a steady gravitas which suits Estragon well. Jacob was a good although he really needed to exhibit more restlessness as counterpoint and for some reason he kept playing directly to the audience. Morton and Seelin were a good pair but no one seemed to pay attention to the script. Robinson clearly says Pozzo can't see where he/she is going and Lucky can't move without being pushed. Neither statement proved to be true - which might have been exciting if the entire world created was full of such contradictions...

Godot: The Wait Is Over is certainly a better offshoot than the last one I saw (Waiting For Waiting For Godot) and it has a certain attraction for fans of the Beckett. In the end though, what is mesmerizing and confounding about the original cannot be found in its ancestor. Playwrights are not philosophers anymore and nothing exemplifies this quite like Godot: The Wait Is Over.

2 Stars

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