Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Beckett’s classic Waiting For Godot continues to draw sellout crowds and near-unanimously positive reviews rivaling those of the current New York production (which stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.) More of Lisa Tomasetti’s production images seem to appear with each new review, so I’ll share the latest batch of both. (As always, click on links to read full reviews at sites of origin.) I also have two new print reviews to share under the cut.
Sun Herald Review: Elissa Blake; Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
Sunday Telegraph Review: Jo Litson; Photo: Lisa Tomasetti.
New Review Excerpts:
David Kary, Sydney Arts Gude: “Comic?…Yes…but the humour is so dark…gallows humour…Black on Black. There is no let up. Desolation..
Sydney Theatre Company has put on a revival of ‘Godot’ as one of its showcase production of the year. Andrew Upton helms the production, taking over from Tamas Ascher who had to withdraw for health reasons. Three giants of the Australian theatre take the leading roles; Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh as the two tramps and Philip Quast as the sadistic Pozzo. The production is of the highest calibre. It’s just really tough going…”
Hugo Weavinbg as Vladimir, Richard Roxburgh as Estragon Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
Sydney Outsider: “Anyone who has read the play or seen a sub-par production might be wary about going to the STC’s production. The exchanges between Didi and Gogo can become confusing, tedious, or a mixture of both. Here well-tuned performances let Beckett’s words shine with all the wit they deserve. The physicality the players bring to their roles makes the characters all the more compelling. I was so enthralled I soon forgot the over-powering stench of perfume coming from the big lady next to me….
At the outset of the play I expected the tale of two men waiting for hours might not resonate with an audience more used to constant titillation and instant gratification. If anything Didi and Gogo’s anxiety at their predicament and need for distraction was shockingly relevant for a modern audience desperate to feel connected constantly – a couple of them so desperate they refused to turn off their mobiles until they rang loudly in the final scenes….
Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh make a brilliant double act and to see them on stage together, masterfully traversing the line between comedy and tragedy as they tussle with the big questions of life, felt like a privilege…
I’m sure there will be critics who find fault in the play and Upton’s direction. Misery guts will say it pulls for laughs too much, while clowns will complain it’s too dark. To those critics I offer another quote from the play, this time from Estragon: ‘People are bloody ignorant apes.’ ”
Luke Mullins as Lucky, Philip Quast as Pozzo Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
Augusta Supple, Australian Stage: “Weaving’s Vladimir is upright, articulate and grand in his broadness. Roxburgh’s Estragon is a small aching poet, finely sketched and crumpled. Mullin’s Lucky is filled with ghostly agony, red raw urgency and a vicious streak. And it is Quast as Pozzo who fills the stage with a mighty and impressive voice – the central sun around which Didi and Gogo orbit. It is in this Waiting for Godot we see the wide reaching universality of oppression, the surrender of control – the desire for control and to be controlled, the need for direction and for the obedience of others – for the complicity in the shape of our own destinies….
Director Andrew Upton has shaped a playful and fluid Waiting for Godot, assisted by Associate director Anna Lengyel. This play “written by an Irishman in France, in a production conceived by a Hungarian by directed by an Australian” has a distinctly universal feel – as absurdist theatre is designed to have. We are the everyman in the everywhere, feeling the weight of the nothingness…
There is pleasure in this waiting. Pleasure found in wildly spoken recitation, in the deep, round vowels of Philip Quast’s undeniable velvet voice. Pleasure in the familiar and complementary pairing of our dearly beloved Roxburgh and Weaving. Pleasure in all the moments to be found and paced with such loving care, by a caring directorial eye. Too easily Waiting for Godot can be a steely criticism on aging, on power, on pettiness – and in Upton’s production we feel as much as we think. A rare balance is struck. ”
Nicholas Harding’s charcoal sketch of Roxburgth and Weaving, from STC’s programme (via STC Facebook)
Rima Sabine Aouf, Concrete Playground: “Fortunately,[despite the absence of original director Tamas Ascher], they’ve pulled off a ripper of a Godot and absolutely one of the year’s most memorable shows. The play is famous as the defining work of absurdism on stage, capturing the utter pointlessness of human existence in its form — in other words, not the most enjoyable comedy around. And yet, in this team’s hands, it’s a consuming, almost fun three hours…
Playwright Samuel Beckett was notoriously controlling over how Waiting for Godot was performed, and his estate continues that vigilance, meaning that you pretty much know what you’re going to get with a production of Godot. Without huge leeway for interpretation, a lot of the interest comes from the pairing of actors, and Weaving and Roxburgh are sublime…
Not only are they heavyweights of Australian drama, they’re hilarious together, with an easy chemistry and camaraderie that led Ascher to envisage them in the roles while they were all working on Uncle Vanya in 2011. Roxburgh’s Estragon is the grumpy, sincere clown of the piece, while Weaving’s more with-it Vladimir still has wide-eyed optimism and relish. Their performances are not totally but nearly naturalistic, such that their tete a tetes seem quite coherent; it might not be Beckett’s ideal, but it is appropriately earthy for a contemporary Australian audience.”
Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
Irina Dunn, Daily Telegraph Online: “The quartet of actors in the STC production bring their own Australian take to Beckett’s ground-breaking play about the futility of life…
Weaving’s insistently mischievous Vladimir makes a wonderful foil to Roxburgh’s testy recalcitrant Estragon. Although Roxburgh holds his own in the verbal duelling between the two, Weaving’s Vladimir is the more powerfully and authentically portrayed and grounds their interactions…
Although Beckett’s stage directions require ‘A country road. A tree. Evening.’, a desolate industrial backdrop dominates the rear of the stage. The direction took into account the cavernous space of this setting, so suggestive of wide open Australian landscapes, and choreographed the two old tramps to fill the void with their antics…
Andrew Upton and his creative team at the STC have produced a very fine, definitively Australian interpretation of this classic – one which will not only satisfy its audiences but also provide a fitting ending to the 2013 season…
PS A suggestion for the STC. Isn’t it about time the wonderful productions of the STC were made available on DVD for the world to see and appreciate.”
Hear, hear! Hear that, STC? 😉
New fan photos from the Night With The Actors Q & A and stage door meetings:
Fan photo from Lauren Dwyer via Instagram: “Meeting the one and only Hugo Weaving after watching the brilliant Waiting For Godot”
Fan Photo from Danie Therese via Twitter/Instagram: “‘Waiting For Godot’ Actors Night. #HugoWeaving #RichardRoxburgh #LukeMullins #PhilipQuast #GoodNight”
I’ve saved the best for last… our Sydney Correspondent Yvette attended the Night With The Actors performance of Godot, which featured a Q & A with the actors, and had a prime vantage point for excellent photos. I’ll share them with you below. She also met Hugo after the show and helped obtain an autograph for another fan… as always, the soul of generosity. My thanks again!
Curtain call: Photo by Yvette
The Night with the Actors Q & A session: Hugo Weaving, Philip Quast, Luke Mullins All Photos: Yvette
Mullins, Richard Roxburgh, the event moderator
Hugo Weaving, Philip Quast
Richard Roxburgh, apparently still entertaining hopes of an “all nude production” of Godot 😉
Roxburgh signs autographs post-show
Hugo Weaving signing and chatting with fans
Again, thanks to Yvette, and all others who’ve shared photos and impressions.
In Other Hugo News:
Healing just had its first “cast and crew screening” at Healesville Sanctuary, where some scenes were filmed, recently. The event was reported by Zoos Victoria; Hugo Weaving was unable to attend due to a meeting that keeps being mysteriously rescheduled. 😉 The film will have another advance screening for Zoos Victoria members early next year, in advance of its Australian release the first week of April.
Mystery Road is already scheduled for a TV screening early next year, according to TV Tonight. It will air on ABC1 (Australia) on 26 January. The film is still in theatres in some parts of Australia: new reviews (all largely positive) were recently posted at ABC North Queensland, SparlyPrettyBriiiight and Early Bird Film Society. No word yet on the DVD/Blu-Ray release schedule, or the specifics of its US release, slated for early next year. I’ll share those details as soon as I know them.