Beckett may have subtitled his play a ‘tragicomedy in two acts’ and the characters occasional direct addresses to the audience are a little music hall. But nothing could have prepared us for the couple sat behind who could have been mistaken for a BBC sit-com laughter track. They came very close to getting a slap – especially when she started to make the sound of rustling leaves – and seemed to think they were at a performance on Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music or the Rocky Horror Show. Worse, people kept looking round to give Paddington Bear stares that sometimes felt directed at us.
Never mind. They failed to spoil the show, which is as good as all the reviews say it is, if not better. Waiting for Godot is a play we are all supposed to have seen, which might make it feel like an obligation, but this is a must-see production for all the right reasons.
We are, as I rather simplistically read it, observing Vladimir in purgatory; he is the only character with any memory and so any real understanding of everyone’s predicament. Everyone else enjoys an ephemeral, dreamlike existence that is always frustrating and sometimes nightmarish to Vladimir. And so, nothing really happens… except that time passes.