Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot by the city’s oldest company, the Wellington Political Theatre, is a triumph.
WPT stalwart Bill English delivers a solid, if unimaginative performance as Estragon. His brooding presence is the very embodiment of a sense of inevitable doom as he wrestles listlessly with his gumboots. Newcomer Jacinda Ardern is a revelation as Vladimir. Her deft touch creates an instant rapport with the audience, drawing us in to the hopeless wait for the titular Godot and imbuing it with a sense of universal significance. Their burden becomes our burden, as we all wait for forces beyond our control to determine our fate.
Perhaps the true genius of this production is the bold decision to re-imagine the supporting roles of Lucky and Pozzo and cast them as ensembles representing character archetypes of The Voter and The Press. This allows the director to explore the inner conflicts of The Voter and the sense of reason divided against itself becomes the thematic engine that drives the play’s narrative arc. In a very real sense only some of us can ever be Lucky at the conclusion of this drama.
True to Beckett’s austere vision the staging of this masterpiece is stark. The essential tree is supplemented only by a battered beehive languishing forlornly beneath its dead branches. The significance of this symbolic void becomes both a metaphor for our essential powerlessness and one of the play’s most tragic and enduring images – empty, pensive, hopelessly waiting…