Title: Waiting For Godot
Cast: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crudup, Shuler Hensley
Seen on: March 15
Waiting For Godot is a funny play. There’s a lot of humour in it, but look deeper and you’ll find a sense of longing, loss and sadness. Two men, Didi and Gogo, waiting for a man that will never show up. You wonder if they knew all along, or that their hope is real, but you root for them anyway. You want Godot to show up, if only to have something good finally happen to these men. They’re poor, hungry, dirty and old, and all they have is each other and a stray carrot and beet root. And they’re waiting for Godot.
Godot is a man. He is a man that can get them off of the streets and into a better life. But Godot doesn’t come when he is expected. Neither does he come the next day, and the day after that. Who does come is Pozzo. And he brings his mule Lucky. They’re comedic too, but as with Didi and Gogo there is a whole lot more to it. Because who is the sad one in the end? Pozzo, who can’t get up when he falls and has to lay on the floor miserably because no one wants to help him up? Or Lucky, who gets a chance to display his intelligence and eloquence and wins the affection and empathy of Didi and Gogo, and thus the audience? It is such a fantastic play with multiple layers and masks!
It is very, very hard not to be completely star-struck when sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart take the stage together, but I have to admit they were not the biggest awe-inspiring thing that evening. That “honour” goes to Billy Crudup, playing Lucky. No matter how funny, heartbreaking, hilarious and impressive the two legends are, Billy Crudup’s Lucky is the star of that play. For the first act of the play, Lucky doesn’t say a word, he is not allowed. But he also never stands still. The first time someone played Lucky, the actor played him as having Parkinson’s disease. Billy Crudup magnified that and made Lucky into a very physical and an almost flittering character in all the best ways. I’ve done a lot of physical acting and this was such a pleasure to see. I felt like watching a master at work.
And then he is allowed to speak. Pozzo tells Didi and Gogo that Lucky knows a few tricks. Like dancing and singing, which he makes Lucky do. And then Gogo asks Pozzo if Lucky can think. When Pozzo orders Lucky to think, Lucky pauses, opens his mouth, and starts talking. At first it hesitantly, soft, but it quickly gains speed and volume and eloquence, until it is an unstoppable force of words and thoughts, and Billy Crudup does it all seemingly without breathing. It is absolutely breathtaking (excuse the pun) and he received a very much deserved rousing applause for it when he was done. Simply amazing.
As you would expect, I was blown away by sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. I was already a fan, but after seeing Waiting For Godot (and No Man’s Land) I bow to these magnificent actors and men and friends. They are absolutely stunning and so, so good at their craft. They played off each other as if they’d been doing it for years, and in fact they have. They have worked together numerous times, mostly on stage but also in the X-Men movies for example, and they are good friends. And that shows. A bond like that cannot be faked, and it translates into their acting. The number one thing to have on stage, in theater, is trust. Trust builds a good play and the trust between these two built a masterpiece.