Review: Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket

“Let us not waste our time in idle discourse”

Waiting for Godot was one of the huge hits of the theatrical calendar last year, starring as it did the heavyweight talents of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, running for most of the summer at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and has been reinstated there again now Breakfast at Tiffany’s has finished.

There’s clearly a business case for bringing this production back as it was so successful and keeping as stellar a name as Ian McKellen to get the bums on seats again, but surely the main draw was seeing the combination of McKellen and Stewart and I do find the recasting decisions a little curious, part of me thinks they should have gone the whole hog in order to create an entirely new production.

That is not to negate the efforts of all involved, Rees’ Vladimir felt more comfortable to watch for me, being an all-round more genial soul and he has developed a great relationship with McKellen’s Estragon which gives a lighter feel to the whole shebang. Matthew Kelly’s Pozzo is a more authoritative, intimidating presence, quite different from Simon Callow’s, with Ronald Pickup continuing the same solid work as before on the end of the rope.

The run-down set is still the same with its crumbling facades and effective shifts of lighting, and I think I actually enjoyed it more this time, Rees feeling much more natural than Patrick Stewart, but I remain to be convinced by the play itself. I wasn’t a fan when I saw it last year, and still found myself struggling to see what made people vote this one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Programme cost: £4

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