Godot's star power makes wait worthwhile

Waiting For Godot is usually found on students' study lists and not associated with box office sell-outs, but this was no ordinary production boasting heavyweights from the worlds of stage and screen.

Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart OBE, who bounced off each other as protagonists in the X-Men films, lined up as Gogo and Didi, two hungry and grumbling old souls who find their lives are going nowhere fast.

Didi reminisced about grape harvesting in a faraway land but Gogo could not remember; for him a great adventure of the past was now just a flash in the memory and he was concerned with the present and immediate future – when Godot would arrive. Would he be their saviour?

Simon Callow played the red-faced, pot-bellied Pozzo, who owned food, drink and the ultimate possession – another human life, with his silent slave Lucky (Ronald Pickup) bearing the luggage of life.

When Lucky's opportunity came to show what he was capable of, he danced and spewed out his thoughts at breakneck pace (resulting in a well-earned bout of applause); but when he was burnt out, his life was once again at the end of the rope.

In the second act, Pozzo had lost his sight and found that he was useless on his own. Even his dedicated slave could not help him as he grew another day older.

A boy (Kane Allen from Hethersett), made short appearances in each scene but, like youth, he was soon gone.

The stage itself looked like a burnt-out bomb site, with collapsed walls and broken floorboards toned in ash grey, but looked spectacular under subtle, constantly changing lighting.

Both Stewart and McKellen were immensely relaxed on stage and played Godot for all its comic and clowning potential. The experience of the two were able to switch the crowd from intense silence to giggles within seconds.

However, the deep, authoritative tones Stewart's voice is capable were not used and at times the narrative seemed rushed.

But these are a minor quibbles; making Samuel Beckett's play popular and entertaining is no mean feat and this production certainly did.

The deeper interpretations may have been lost on many who were there to see the stars but no one would have gone home disappointed.

Blake Martins