Godot’s worth the wait
AN ALL-BLACK British production of Samuel Beckett’s surrealist masterpiece Waiting for Godot will give audiences at the West Yorkshire Playhouse a fresh take on the classic play about humanity and friendship, says actor Guy Burgess.
West Yorkshire Playhouse and Talawa Theatre Company have produced the first all-black British production of Beckett’s famous play which depicts the relationship between two elderly men while they wait for the elusive Godot.
Guy – whose other credits include Oliver and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in the West End – plays Pozzo’s slave Lucky, who visits the two men with his master while they play the waiting game.
He said: “It is going to be very interesting doing the play, and with it being an all-black British cast it will have a different resonance to other productions.
“The play deals with some very complex arguments but I think it can be enjoyed by Beckett’s fans and someone who is not familiar with his work.
“The play is about the human condition and the disintegration of the planet in relation to man.
“This theme could address any issue that we see in society today and that is why the play has been studied and debated time and time again.
“The friendship that these two men build while they are waiting for the same thing is really significant and the issues that they discuss will relate to a lot of people.
“It is just as relevant today as when it was written more than 60 years ago.”
Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett wrote the play in 1948 and it remains as one of his most famous and important works.
The main themes, which challenge Beckett’s fans and critics are addressed in Guy’s extensive monologue in the first act which is more than 750 words long, with only two full stops.
“I chose the part of Lucky because it appealed to me, he is a very subservient character but is vitally important in the play’s overall message.
“When he does speak he is commanded by Pozzo to ‘think’ and it is a very powerful monologue which relates to a lot of philosophical arguments and classical references.
“The monologue was challenging and, as an actor, I had a certain amount of freedom in how I delivered it.
“Some people would ramble the speech off as nonsense but I try to get the best out of every word – it’s about telling a story with the words.”
The setting for the play is deliberately bleak and to emphasize the importance of the characters’ speeches and interactions with one another.
Guy added: “The play doesn’t have a great deal of lighting and background changes because it is set at the tree where the two older men have their discussions. The landscape can represent every where, and for that reason again I think the audience will find it very interesting to be entirely entertained by the characters.”
The national tour is premiering in the Playhouse’s Courtyard theatre and is the final play to be directed by Ian Brown as artistic director of the Playhouse.
Waiting for Godot will be at West Yorkshire Playhouse Courtyard theatre from Friday February 3 to Saturday February 25. Tickets are £17-£27. Book online at www.wyp.org.uk or call West Yorkshire Playhouse box office on 0113 213 7700.
l See Julie Marshall’s review of Waiting for Godot on page 46