Even if you haven’t seen this play, you'll know the title. This production, by Talawa Theatre Company and Britain’s first production of the play by an all black cast, presents a new reason for those curious to try the play for the first time or revisit it afresh.
Waiting for Godot starts off and ends with the spotlight on comedy duo Vladimir (Jeffery Kissoon) and Estragon (Patrick Robinson). Eccentric and somewhat batty, they resemble loveable old people who’ve stopped caring what others think. At one point they gleefully attempt suicide because they’ve heard it in brings on 'erections' and at another, Robinson muses on the pleasures and pains of eating a raw carrot (gets worse as you go on, quite true).
This play, as it might be detected here, is slightly barmy with Beckett himself refusing to commit to its interpretation or purpose. But as with all absurdist theatre, the insaneness is part of the point. Humanity, said the absurdists, will never find meaning in life, so all its efforts to do this are ridiculous and pointless. So, we are treated to a smattering of wonderfully odd moments such as the slave Lucky’s (Guy Burgess) eloquent gibberish on the meaning of life, hat swapping, slapstick violence and some nonsense on the depressing nature of sunsets. None of this really makes sense and it needs great acting, comic timing and an intimate theatre space to pull it off – all of which this production has which is indeed lucky.
But there’s a sense of the uncomfortable in being made to laugh at certain things - such as poor Lucky’s misfortunes. Laughing at a man who's made to wear a rope round his neck and perform tricks like a dog doesn’t (hopefully) sit easy with contemporary audiences and it is remarkable Beckett wrote this for 20th century sensibilities.
Waiting for Godot isn't your average theatre fix but if a bit of top acting, slapstick humour and the contemplation of the pointlessness of existence appeals then it's a good bet. Staged at the Albany in Deptford it's also a great alternative to the West End or even fringe venues more centrally located - swigging Red Stripe at your seat and wandering into the remnants of the Caribbean market outside, it's certainly an alternative to the bright lights of the West End.
Waiting for Godot is on until Saturday 10 March at the Albany Theatre in Deptford. Tickets from £8.