June 8, 2015
The reviews are in and the word is good for Andrew Upton’s Sydney Theatre Company production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which opened at the Barbican in London on Friday night as part of a month-long, 30-year retrospective of the playwright’s work.
“Revelatory,” wrote The Telegraph’s Jane Shilling in a five-star review praising Hungarian designer Zsolt Khell’s “monumental” set design, Nick Schlieper’s lighting, and a production of “luminous intelligence and virtuoso physicality”.
“Godot’s cavernous reserves of pity, horror and comedy have seldom been so beautifully explored,” concludes Shilling.
Writing for the British theatre paper The Stage, Honour Bayes was struck by the lightness and “profound pathos” of a production that debuted in Sydney in 2013. “Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving’s tender partnership is a treasure,” Bayes writes. “Weaving’s Vladimir is a heel clicking, nimble leader … Roxburgh’s Estragon is anything but simple, instead showing an intuitive wisdom that feels more in tune with their bleak world than Vladimir’s cerebral contentions. Together they play the vaudevillian fools beautifully, utterly on beat with each clownish turn.”
The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner also singled out the chemistry created between Weaving and Roxburgh and praised the productions clarity. She was less enthusiastic in star rating (awarding it three stars), however, describing Upton’s production as one that “seems to have considered every line and its meaning so carefully that it feels over-studied and like a series of set pieces and unshowy turns rather than an organic whole.”
The positive response to Godot will be something of a feather in the cap for Upton, 49. During his tenure as the STC’s artistic director, the company has established itself as a force on the international scene after its productions of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya were revived in the United States.