All aspects of the production are out of the top drawer. (Review by Keith Millar)
It is difficult to believe that the rendition of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot which was seen this week at the Roy Cousins Theatre at Westville Boys High School is, in fact, a school production. It is an immaculate endeavour which could hold its own on any professional stage.
All aspects of the production are out of the top drawer.
Direction is by Luke Holder, the Director of Cultural Activities at the school, who continues to inspire, motivate and educate young actors and crew to deliver at a level way beyond the norm.
Lighting is by technical guru Megan Levy. It is unobtrusive, atmospheric and very effective. Particularly as day moves to dusk and finally nightfall in the story. Levy is also responsible for sound, which was faultless throughout the production. I initially raised my eyebrows at headset microphones being used by actors in a straightforward drama production. But I suppose technology is there to assist in improving the experience for the audience and the subtle sound balance in the production certainly achieved that.
The costumes were excellent. Wonderfully authentic and appropriate to the character of the production.
The set, made up of a huge pile of discarded building rubble and a gaunt, sad looking, old tree, was the perfect desolate and dismal backdrop for this absurd, existentialist drama to play out against.
With all those facets in place, it was up to lead actors Murray Clark (Vladimir/Didi) and Carrick Keating (Estragon/Gogo) to bring this difficult drama to life. These two young men have been making waves on the stage at Westville Boys High for some time now, but I think their performances in Waiting for Godot will go down as the crowning glory of their school acting careers. As young men playing elderly hoboes, their performances were sustained, actuate and utterly convincing. Sure, they looked a little young for the parts and at times youthful exuberance had them bounding about the building rubble with more dexterity than Didi and Gogo would have been capable of. But, all in all, it can be said that they pulled off, in spades.
The others in the cast, Luke Holder himself, as the dominating Pozzo, Kevin Dyer as his slave Lucky, and Bryn Snyder as the boy, did not let the side down. They all in their own right put in excellent performances which enhanced the overall quality of the production.
Waiting for Godot is regarded by most as a modern classic which changed the way drama was written. Described as theatre of the absurd, it relates the story of two hoboes who are waiting for a Mr. Godot who never arrives. However, that is all they have, the hope of meeting Godot who they think will change their empty lives. They argue, and make up, contemplate suicide, try to think of things to do to relieve the boredom, threaten to leave, but then don’t - and in the end all they do is wait for Godot – day after day.
At a point, two strange characters Pozzo and his slave Lucky arrive on the scene. Their incongruous actions relieve the boredom for a while but then it is back to waiting for Godot.
It is a huge credit to the Westville Boys High Drama Department that they have tackled this difficult and complex classic and made such a success of it.
The show was offered to all drama teachers and students in KZN who study this classic text as part of the NSC Dramatic Arts Curriculum. By the end of its run, it will have been seen by over 3,000 pupils. – Keith Millar