STC’s Godot In London: New Pics of Hugo Weaving & The Cast, Reviews & Interviews; Strangerland at SFF

A veritable deluge of new material on Sydney Theatre Godot’s London engagement of Waiting For Godot has appeared over the past 48 hours, and I’m struggling to keep up, so I’ll apologise for any lack of organization or sloppy errors. So far reviews from professional critics and audiences alike have been ecstatic, and we have tons of new production photos and fan photos. The cast have been very kind about signing programmes for fans at the stage door, but I should pass on the message that they’re ONLY signing Godot-related items, so leave your Matrix/LOTR mementos at home.  (This policy echoes that put in place for the New York run of an earlier production of Godot and Pinter’s No Man’s Land (Two Plays In Rep) which starred Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen… On the whole it’s very sensible, though I’ve had Hugo sign “off-topic items” in the past. I think the actors are trying to prioritize fans who’ve actually bought tickets to see the play rather than gate-crashers who sell autographs online, and who constantly harassed Hugo during both the NYC of Uncle Vanya and at this year’s Sundance film festival.) The feedback I’m getting so far is that the actors have been very generous about signing and posing for photos with fans.


Hugo Weaving, Luke Mullins and Richard Roxburgh as Vladimir, Lucky and Estragon in STC’s Waiting For Godot at the London Barbican.  Photo: Roy Tan via Broadwayworld.com

I’ll lead off with a great new interview Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh and Andrew Upton did for The Sydney Morning Herald, then intersperse review excerpts with the wealth of fan and professional photos of the new productions. There WILL be additional photos in days to come, but some aren’t ready to share yet.

This is the print version of the Sydney Morning Herald piece, which finds Weaving and Roxburgh exchanging impressions of the play, and how it’s evolved between the Sydney and London stagings. Andrew Upton makes some hopeful noise about future touring for the STC, but holds out on any specifics. 😉 You can read the identical online version here.   The amazing photo in both versions is by Julian Andrews.

I’ve also added print scans of Hugo Weaving’s Wall Street Journal interview from June 4 and David Stratton’s review of Strangerland from The Australian to my Hugo Weaving Flickr archive…both are very similar to the online versions previously shared.

Here are an assortment of new production photos, fan/stage door photos and review excerpts; as always, the reviews are well worth reading in their entirety, so I’ve linked back to the sites of origin.


Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in Waiting For Godot   Photo: Roy Tan via Broadwayworld.com

Jane Schilling, The Daily Telegraph: “Andrew Upton’s production for the Sydney Theatre Company, part of the Barbican’s International Beckett Festival, draws on the drama’s ludic qualities to revelatory effect….

There is a theatrical experience as rare as it is wonderful, when you realise in the opening moments of a play that nothing will go wrong: you are about to spend two hours in the dark, captivated, moved and, when you leave, in some way changed. This is what Upton and his cast achieve in a production of luminous intelligence and virtuoso physicality…

Weaving’s sinuous, dandified Vladimir, Roxburgh’s wounded Estragon, Philip Quast, ruined and bombastic as Pozzo, and Luke Mullins’s menacingly vulnerable Lucky explore the resonances of Beckett’s text with elegant precision – and an acrobatic comic timing with hats, boots, suitcases and trousers that makes the physical world seem infinitely strange… Godot’s cavernous reserves of pity, horror and comedy have seldom been so beautifully explored.”


Photo: Roy Tan/Broadwayworld.com


Luke Mullins, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving and Philip Quast   Photo: Alastair Muir/The Daily Telegraph

Rev Stan’s Theatre Blog: “…As Vladimir and Estragon entertain themselves to pass the time so we are similarly entertained. There is a bleakness and tragedy in everything but equally there is something very warm and comforting. This is a production with no half measures…

The comic performances are brilliantly ridiculous in their physicality, at times outlandish while at others as subtle as a glance or a look. But it never loses the pathos and its heart and it is in those moments that you really feel like a mirror is being held up. It a very personal play, one in which you will interpret and reconcile its themes in your own way while being thoroughly entertaining.

Weaving and Roxburgh have a brilliant rapport, their Vladimir and Estragon rub along together just like an old married couple bickering and yet quietly full of care. Quast’s Pozzo is superbly affected with a gentile arrogance and Mullins’ Lucky delicate and vicious…At two hours and fifty minutes there is a lot of waiting but I lapped up every second of it.”


Photo: Alastair Muir/The Daily Telegraph


Photo: Roy Tan/Broadwayworld.com

Marek, Crilogy.com: “…it was the most won­der­ful, bit­ter­sweet allegory of human­ity I’ve ever seen. Seem­ingly a hil­ari­ous com­edy of abso­lutely noth­ing hap­pen­ing, yet tak­ing my mind to places not many other plays or movies man­aged to do over the last few years. Hell, I caught myself won­der­ing off in thoughts and los­ing sev­eral moments of the dia­log! Which then turned out to be the exact reflec­tion of what was por­trayed on stage…

There was no stand­ing ova­tion. Nobody cried. And yet I can swear to you right here and right now that it was truly the most power­ful cock­tail of expres­sion of this dec­ade. At least for me…

Dir­ec­ted by Andrew Upton, a fine cast of Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weav­ing, Philip Quast, Luke Mullins and young boy (name of whose I can­not find) delivered a mas­ter­piece of com­plex­it­ies mas­quer­ad­ing in simplicity… yet another phe­nom­enal per­form­ance by Sydney Theatre Com­pany. Samuel Beckett’s Wait­ing for Godot is one play any­one should see and pon­der about.”


Hugo Weaving, Luke Mullins and Richard Roxburgh   Photo (plus following 15) by Robbie Jack/Corbis


Luke Mullins, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving and Philip Quast


Above 16 photos: Robbie Jack/Corbis

Here’s a selection of great fan photos along with their original Twitter or Instagram captions:


“Forged in the very fires of mount doom 🙂 #lotr #hugoweaving #legend #elrond” Ash B via Twitter (both above pics)


“GUYS I JUST MET HUGO WEAVING ” Bella, via Twitter


“Had a cheeky hug off Hugo Weaving #happiness #hugoweaving #waitingforgodot” Karolina Goralik, via Twitter/Instagram


“London Tube Ad, #STCGodot” Tim McKeough/Instagram


“Program signed by Hugo Weaving #waitingforgodot #hugoweaving” Hein, via Instagram

Yo can read an interview with Richard Roxburgh, who also discusses his popular series Rake at Yahoo7. And some tickets for the remaining performances of Godot are still available at The Barbican’s website: if you are at all in the position to go, I urge you not to wait around. 😉 More pics and reviews soon, as they become available. Should be a very busy week here.

Strangerland at Sydney Film Festival

Meanwhile, Hugo’s latest film performance, in Kim Farrant’s Strangerland, has been on view this week at this year’s Sydbey Film Festival. While the reviews have, on the whole, been more positive than those at Sundance, and nearly all praise Hugo’s performance, there remains a certain “WTF?!” quotient, particularly– though certainly not unanimously– among male critics. Kim Farrant spoke at a Q&A session for the film at SFF on June 6 which was well-received, and plans to keep promoting the film in its arthouse tour of Australia over the next month. She’s been surprisingly frank about the film’s personal origins in several promo interviews.  The most interesting of these are two video interviews at AAP, which include footage from the film and Farrant’s description of the film’s origins, themes and how the cast came together… longtime fans will know that Hugo was the first member of the final cast to sign on, but I just learned in these interviews that he’s worked previously with Farrant, on a 1996 short film called “No One To Blame”. After nearly fifteen years in the Hugo fandom, I’m astonished to keep uncovering heretofore unknown items in his past resume. This film is only mentioned briefly on Farrant’s website, and, alas, she provides no sample footage, though you can view work from her many other projects over the years. I guess this will be another “Holy Grail” item for fans to continue looking for. 😉

Some of Farrant’s comments from the AAP footage as well as behind the scenes footage and an interview with Nicole Kidman, appear at MSN/News Ten‘s website. You can view a gallery of pics from Strangerland’s SFF premiere (featuring Maddison Brown, Meyne Wyatt, Lisa Flanagan, Nicholas Hamilton and Kim Farrant) at the film’s Facebook page.

Here are excerpts from a few of the positive-leaning reviews:

David Stratton, The Australian:  “For her debut feature, Farrant has been fortunate to work with a splendid cast. Kidman, who last played an Australian in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia five years ago, brings depth to the troubled character of Catherine, reminding us that she frequently has chosen challenging and offbeat roles during her interesting career. Hugo Weaving, as the local cop in charge of investigating the disappearances, is in excellent form, as is British actor Fiennes as the troubled Matthew…

Strangerland may possibly be too mysterious to be a major success, but this immaculately made movie goes a long way towards reminding us why a vibrant local film industry is so essential for the nation as a whole. Its intelligently drawn characters, with all their aspirations and all their failings, are a part of this Australian landscape, though in many ways they have a recognisable universality. Like the character played by Gary Bond in Wake in Fright, they’re unsettled by the extreme conditions they find in this small outback community, where danger lurks just beyond the town limits.”


Hugo Weaving and Nicole Kidman in Strangerland   Photo: ABC

Jason DiRosso, The Final Cut/ABC: “Strangerland, as the title suggests, is a film imbued with an unease about not feeling at home in country. It stars Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes as a couple whose teenage son and daughter go missing, not long after the family moves to a small outback town. But it’s also a film about sexual repression and denial, which of course is also metaphorical…

First time director Kim Farrant, working with Irish cinematographer PJ Dillon, often pushes the film into dreamlike terrain, recalling a tradition of outback expressionism found in films like Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout and Ted Kotcheff’s Wake In Fright. There’s an effectively staged, nightmarish scene where the husband and wife get stuck in their car during a dust storm and recurring images of a nearby gorge taken from a helicopter, or maybe a drone, that sets a menacing tone. All of this seems to underline a sense that this landscape is threatening and mysterious, an idea expressed, with a slightly heavy hand, in the character of an old Aboriginal woman whose brief, enigmatic appearances in the film add a dash of mysticism…

Kidman, who is the best on screen, plays the kind of delicate flower that we’ve seen before, but she’s also a woman with a lot of fight. I liked that Farrant shows so much respect for her struggle. One key to understanding the film is to see it as the story of a woman who has become estranged from her emotional life and is searching desperately, sometimes hysterically, to find some way to reconnect. It’s a pity Fiennes’s character is not as well drawn (there’s a fine line between wooden and uptight). As the elements of police thriller and domestic drama crescendo in parallel, you can feel the movie straining to carry all the elements, and it starts to run out of ideas. Still, for all the film’s unevenness, it’s a promising debut from Farrant. A filmmaker to watch. ”

***

Sandra Hall, Brisbane Times/Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s the red centrepiece of Strangerland, a first feature film from television director Kim Farrant, who’s ambitiously aiming for something that sits alongside Picnic, Walkabout and Wake in Fright – films which take an anthropomorphic view of the Australian landscape. They would have us see it as a secretive entity with a way of swallowing up those who get too close to it….

Kidman has played distraught mothers before now. They’ve been roles which have afforded her the chance to display her considerable gift for the eloquent silence. Like her compatriot Naomi Watts, she can conjure a lot out of seeming to do very little. But, sadly, there’s none of that kind of miniaturism here. She rapidly accelerates to a state of barely contained hysteria and stays there, hyperventilating throughout…

Fortunately, we have Weaving, who is such an unaffected and malleable screen performer that he brings a sharp jolt of reality to his every scene. So do Flanagan and Wyatt. Both familiar from their great work in the TV series Redfern Now, they help to take the edge off the redneck caricatures who make up the rest of the town’s population.

And because it centres on the mystery of two missing children, it’s a compelling story, although I’m not sure if its spiritual dimensions convince. The script has grafted on bits of Aboriginal mythology which sit oddly with everything else. And yet the landscape weaves some potent magic.” [3 and a half stars]More to follow about both projects, meanwhile I’ll retweet/reblog all positive audience feedback on social media for both via my Twitter account.

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