Sixty-two years after it debuted at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris, audiences continue to wait for Godot.
Back then, this absurdist piece played to the glitterati of the French capital. Unlike the star-studded, fully funded, highly publicised version currently running at the Lyceum in celebration of their 50th anniversary, however, the 1953 premiere had no famous names, no funders, and only word-of-mouth to rely upon.
The former Lord Provost, Eric Milligan, took his seat in one of the posh boxes, and like many who have attempted to interpret Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, looked just as dumbfounded.
Here, two tramps stand by a lone Willow tree. The period: uncertain. For two days, they bicker, joke, muse, and even ponder taking their own lives as they wait for the curious Godot to show up. One thing is for sure – they won’t leave.
So after all these years, why do we continue to wait for Godot? Who really knows?
A three-hour epic, it’s full of contradictions. It’s dull yet entertaining. Thought-provoking yet mind-numbing. The pace moves frustratingly slowly, too, as our hobos Estragon (Bill Paterson) and Vladimir (Brian Cox) get all introspective and contemplative.
Bizarrely, a slave and his master arrive on the scene to break up the monotony, even a small boy – who apparently works for Godot – shows up to remind the two main characters that the great, enigmatic Godot will definitely show up tomorrow.
And that’s about it. An ambiguous slice of existentialism that can be interpreted a thousand different ways.
What it does show, though, is how we, as people, manage to create moments of joy, sadness, beauty and cruelty as we pass through life. In short, it (life) is whatever we create it to be. Or, as Beckett said himself, symbiosis.
Both Paterson and Cox deliver a masterclass in acting. At times, they come across as a rib-tickling comedy double-act, and let’s be honest – this production wouldn’t be half as watchable if these two weren’t in the lead roles.
Worth the wait, then? Ask Godot when he shows up.
Until October 10