This iconic production gets a modern industrial treatment that doesn't disappoint, says Charley Rogers
As their first major solo production, The Tobacco Factory’s rendition of Beckett’s absurd classic Waiting for Godot is certainly a way to kick off the theatre’s in-house roster with a bang.
Presented in the round, with a sparse, industrial-style set, this interpretation manages to pull the 1950’s classic into the present, without losing any of Beckett’s discursive brilliance. The chemistry between Vladimir and Estragon is palpable, and the excellently timed physical movement is just as comic as the emphatic dialogue delivery.
The costumes are also a nod to the 21st Century, with Estragon being clothed in tatty jeans and a smiley face rave sweatshirt. The iconic bowler hats are replaced with Estragon’s peak cap, and a dilapidated tweed bucket hat for Vladimir. Despite first being somewhat put off by the change in what is of course some of the most recognisable theatre costume, as the play progressed it was clear that the modern clothing was a more than fitting nod to the universality and timelessness of the human condition, for which Waiting for Godot is so famous for addressing.
The characters of Pozzo, Lucky, and the Boy were also well presented, with the physical exhaustion of Lucky positively hard to watch at times, and the emphatic and erratic behaviour of Pozzo causing more than a couple of chuckles and gasps from the audience.
The intimate setting of the Tobacco Factory’s theatre means that the atmospheric lighting also allows the audience to see one another clearly across the floor. This works well with the meta themes of the play, as Beckett’s focus on the inevitability of life, death, boredom and existential questioning even extends to the occasional fourth-wall break.
Overall this is a very enjoyable experience, and the production as a whole does very well to live up to the legend of Beckett’s most famous work. I certainly recommend going along, and for those that know the play well, let me assure you that Lucky’s speech does not disappoint…
Waiting for Godot is running until Saturday November 4th, and has a run time of 2hr 40mins including interval.
Mark Dawson Photography, via tobaccofactorytheatres.com