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Review: Waiting for Godot at the Lichfield Garrick

As theatre programming becomes increasingly tame and safe it’s salutary to be reminded of just how powerful drama can be.

The last time Beckett’s iconic post-war masterpiece was performed in Lichfield was 2007 during the golden reign of the Garrick Rep (remember that heady period?) directed by the doughty Alice Bartlett.

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot

There isn’t space to retail Godot’s illustrious production history – see Wikipedia for that and much, much more – but it inextricably changed theatre and so well deserves this blast of an unexpectedly fresh and immediate revival. In fact thank God(ot) for Different Animal bringing one of the 20th century’s greatest masterpieces back to us here in David Stonehouse’s beautiful production.

Ian Parkes and Ian Davies are marvellous as Vladimir and Estragon the two rootless tramps doomed to live every day over and over again with barely a memory between them – strangely prescient given the memory loss and dementia epidemic of an ageing 21st century population. Adrian Venables is marvellous as the pretentious toff Pozzo but Richard Clarke takes the cake as the ironically named brutalised slave Lucky. Special mention must go to Joe Venables for his eerie performance as the Boy.

If the writing of Godot seems to signify the end of the traditional play, it also prefigures the future, a crucial moment in world theatre. This production makes clear its powerful influence on television – here are the prototypes for Steptoe and Son, similarly trapped together, with even perhaps an echo in the Likely Lads and all those buddy movies.

The first night played to a tiny audience. Given the many booming theatre and performing arts courses in local schools and colleges, it’s surprising these students and their teachers haven’t seized the chance to see this superb and historic example of the writing, directing and acting they aspire to.

The increasingly powerful and poignant last act finally had me in tears, of the very best kind. I’m going again, if only to catch the second half’s master class of perhaps the 20th century’s most influential piece of theatre.

Waiting for Godot is at the Garrick until March 4. For tickets visit the online box office or call 01543 412121.

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