Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review: 'Waiting for Godot' in Smock Alley

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It's awful.” - Estragon, summing up how many theatre-goers no doubt felt about Waiting for Godot over the decades.

Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar has recently started a run of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. There's no way I'm even going to try criticism with a play like this. Godot has been analysed (overanalysed?) extensively, for decades. I completely get why that would be - there's just so much great material to work with.

However: if you go to Godot expecting a conventional narrative, you will probably hate it. The first time I saw the play (many years ago) I hadn't been warned about Beckett's style, sometimes referred to as "theatre of the absurd", and damn was I annoyed. It remained my most hated play for many years. Plot? No. Excitement? Hell no. There's a whole lot of waiting and not a lot of Godot.

The good news though is that if you're in the right state of mind you'll be fine. More than fine; you'll... OK, you won't enjoy it, probably, but you'll laugh uncontrived laughs, and be glad you've seen the play. My breakthrough with Beckett was seeing his shorter plays and realising that they're the theatrical equivalent of abstract art; and similarly no-one demands explicit meaning and plot from Beethoven or Mozart.

So, what about this production? All the cast are good but Ronan Dempsey is particularly excellent as Pozzo. Mmmm, that's some fine fine fine Pozzo-ing. I don't have much else to say about the production because, well, they had a demanding script to work with and they just did a uniformly good job with it.

The decor of Smock Alley works well for the play, and of course Smock Alley is also just lovely as a venue. O'Hara's on tap, "Smocktail" cocktails, and you can bring drinks into the auditorium - nicely done Smock Alley, nicely done.

In summary: if you want good Beckett, this'll hit the spot. Just don't invite along anyone who wants to see a normal play.

Waiting for Godot continues in the main space of Smock Alley until 23rd August 2014, starting at 7:30 pm each evening. There is an interval of about 15 minutes. Tickets cost €16 / €14.

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