Monday, May 05, 2008

Godot? Oh, God.

Waiting for Godot is not Samuel Beckett's best play, but it is his most influential. We have it to thank for inspiring Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Pinter's The Caretaker and many, many more plays, the latest being Brendan Gall's Alias Godot at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

In Alias Godot, Godot is the main character - and he really wants to get to Vladimir and Estragon, but has been arrested along the way. In post-9/11 New York. Here's my 2.5/4 star review:
Beckett went to his grave without ever explaining who Godot was, meaning that multiple interpretations of the character continue to be debated. Gall is considerably less coy, but no more clear about his Godot. Like the unseen character from Beckett's play, he's a French farmer with two boys in his employ. Like Beckett himself, he was once stabbed by a pimp and has vivid memories of being in the womb. (Yes, Beckett was an odd one.) This Godot also rides a magical horse called Patches. That, I assume, is Gall's original contribution.
Gall isn't the first and he certainly won't be the last to write a play where Godot finally shows - something that seems to entirely miss the point, in my view. The first was probably Serbian playwright Miodrag Bulatović's 1966 sequel Godot Arrived, or He Has Arrived. Apparently, Beckett was aware of that production and is even blurbed on the published edition, saying: "I think that all that has nothing to do with me." Ditto, I'm sure, for Alias Godot, which nonetheless manages to be quite entertaining.

And speaking of Tom Stoppard (oh, a few paragraphs back), he offers some advice to young playwrights in today's Guardian: "I just lock myself up in solitary - once I'm into something, I'm working all the time to get out of jail."

ON THE OTHER HAND: The Star's Richard Ouzounian gives Alias Godot 2/4 stars, The Sun's John Coulbourn gives it 4/5 and BlogTO's Graeme pontificates.

UPDATE: And Robert Cushman calls it "the most scintillating debut we've had this season."

No comments: