If Waiting For Godot is the last word in the absurdity of the human condition, this play is its hilarious epilogue. Starring The Fast Show’s Simon Day, Dave Hanson’s Waiting For Waiting For Godot is as deep as the work it riffs off while never losing sight of its two main characters.
WFWFG revolves around two understudies, Ester (Day) and Val (James Marlowe), who spend their evenings backstage drinking coffee, writing, talking and visiting the WC. And waiting. Waiting for the director who never appears. Waiting for an agent to take them on. Waiting for that career upturn which is just around the corner.
At that level alone, it would be a mildly amusing parody on Samuel Beckett’s play and the life of the actors who toil in those circumstances. WFWFG completely transcends that level through its superlative acting, script and direction.
The latter by The Play That Goes Wrong’s Mark Bell is especially powerful in illuminating Beckett’s more theatrical motifs – especially the long, meaningful pauses – as well as some brilliant physical comedy between the pair. Bell has engendered some real chemistry between the tall, stocky and bald Day in a too-small waistcoat (looking for all the world like an English Shrek) and his younger and smaller colleague, for example when Day is trying to lay down basic tenets of their trade like “art is difficult; artists never should be”.
Now, Hanson may be a Yank but he knows how to butter an English audience. His script is packed with side-eye zingers (“You did what you did for art and personal gain. Don’t apologise – it’s the British way.”). Then there are the Monty Pythonesque diversions into pure silliness which see, amongst other things, Day do ridiculous impersonations of Marlon Brando and Sean Connery. His script offers heartfelt insights into not just the worlds of acting and the work of Beckett but the depths of desperation a person can succumb to.
As the outwardly confident, inwardly terrified Ester, Day plays an absolute blinder. Those who know him from only his appearance and TV work would suspect that his appearance here would be sheer pastrami (both beefy and hammy at the same time).
Instead, he is a revelation in this role. His verbal and delivery is superb, flipping between gratuitous swearing and pompous pontificating, all in perfectly enunciated RP, is comedy gold. Even on the St James Studio’s small stage, what he achieves with an economy of motion is little short of Chaplin-like genius.
That this original play deserves a transfer is undeniable, especially in a theatre scene currently wallowing in film-to-stage mediocrity like Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Kinky Boots and Mrs Henderson Presents. Whether it will get one is another matter and depends largely on venue owners taking a risk and looking beyond their balance sheets. As Estragon puts it, “people are bloody ignorant apes.”
Waiting For Waiting For Godot – St James Theatre until 24th September
Guest Review by Franco Milazzo
WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT
Tuesday 30 August – Saturday 24 September 2016 (no performances on Sundays) Running time: TBC
Tickets: £15, £25, £30 / Box Office 0844 264 2140
Address: St. James Studio, 12 Palace Street, London. SW1E 5JA.
Twitter: @libbybrodieprod #WFWFG
Full performance schedule below. Public booking opens on Tuesday 10th May at 10am.
Overall Performance Schedule
Tuesday 30 August – 8pm (preview) Wednesday 31 August – 3pm (preview) Wednesday 31 August – 8pm (preview) Thursday 1 September – 8pm (press performance) Friday 2 September – 8pm
Saturday 3 September – 3pm and 8pm
Monday 5 September– 8pm Tuesday 6 September – 8pm Wednesday 7 September – 3pm and 8pm Thursday 8 September – 8pm Friday 9 September – 3pm and 8pm Saturday 10 September – 3pm and 8pm
Monday 12 September – 8pm
Tuesday 13 September – 8pm Wednesday 14 September – 3pm and 8pm Thursday 15 September – 8pm Friday 16 September –8pm Saturday 17 September – 3pm and 8pm
Monday 19 September – 8pm
Tuesday 20 September – 8pm Wednesday 21 September – 3pm and 8pm Thursday 22 September – 8pm Friday 23 September – 8pm Saturday 24 September – 3pm and 8pm