November 18, 2013
THERE’S a distinctly vaudevillian touch in the lights dotted around the arch in Sydney Theatre for the current Sydney Theatre Company production of Waiting For Godot.
They’re reminiscent of the illumination of a dressing room mirror, yet there are blank spots where lights are missing. It’s a theatre on the slide to physical ruin. So too in the makeup worn by Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh as Vladimir and Estragon, are there echoes of stage lives in decline.
And the Soviet-era grey that covers every centimetre of space beneath the arch heightens the impression of some kind of theatrical purgatory, hopelessly and helplessly inhabited by the two unfortunates at the heart of the piece.
Meaning, in Godot, is hotly contested, the subject of myriad debates and discourses (a Christian reading is the most obvious but Beckett denied this).
Vladimir and Estragon’s fruitless wait for a man called Godot is everything and nothing, the pointlessness of our existence at its heart. But this is, after all, a comedy and Weaving and Roxburgh acquit themselves expertly, as they banter and clown about while milling around a dead tree, passing time as they wait.
Into their dialogue wanders the bombastic Pozzo (Philip Quast) dragging or possibly being dragged by his ironically named and heavily burdened slave Lucky (Luke Mullins).
Their purpose is uncertain, their provenance unknown. But it makes for some beautiful banter and prime physical comedy as the trio follow their conversational tales while Lucky simply endures. And on it goes.
Director Andrew Upton’s take makes for a remarkable production of a 20th-century masterpiece. It’s perfectly paced and Weaving and Roxburgh are at their finest, bring to bear all of their considerable abilities on the roles.
An unrecognisable Quast and Mullins almost run away with the whole thing, Quast’s towering stature and magnificent presence the sheer embodiment of Pozzo.
Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay; until December 21, $55-$105, 9250 1777, sydneytheatre.com.au