Newpoint Players present ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett

Setting

Synopsis

Beckett’s classic play is set on an empty country road near a withered tree. The tragicomic, almost clownish, Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for Godot. Were they here on the previous day? Do they know Godot? Would they recognise him if he arrived? How do they pass the time? Should they leave? Can they leave? They are joined by Pozzo and his enslaved servant Lucky. These newcomers offer little by way of answers to their questions. A boy arrives to announce that Godot will not come on this day. Darkness signals an interval. The Second Act mirrors the first, with more elements of farce and philosophical reflection

Cast

Estargon Donal O’Hanlon
Vladimir Lowry Hodgett
Lucky Sean Markey / Neil Heaney
Pozzo Turlough Trainor
A Boy Daire Downey

Crew

Director Sean Treanor
Lighting Dylan Connolly
Sound Dylan Connolly
Stage Managers Rory Hughes
Mark Hughe
Tom Carville
Ezra Davis
Set Design Michael McAteer
Mary Goss
Anna Rose Heatley
Make Up Ezra Davis
Set Construction Michael McAteer
Tom Carville
Stephanie Vigne

About The Group

Newpoint Players from Newry has been active since 1946. Each year we participate in the ADCI and AUDF Drama Festival Circuit, sometimes with two concurrent plays. Every summer we run a youth theatre school involving young people aged 14 to 18 at no cost to participants. Though an Amateur group, we are a ‘producing company’, Recent festival productions have been written by and directed by Sean Treanor. For the past two years, Newpoint Players have toured to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto Canada with two original history- based plays written by Anthony Russell and directed by Donal O’Hanlon. We returned to Canada in April this year on a renewed tour.

Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments

In her introduction, Festival Adjudicator Imelda McDonagh noted that ‘Waiting for Godot’ is regarded as “one of the most significant plays of the 20th century”. Amid the backdrop of “a barren landscape”, we see “theatre of the absurd” and although there is a feeling of despair, there is will to survive despite the despair.
When author Samuel Beckett was later awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the “human compassion” that inspires his work was highlighted. Originally written in French, the play has often been seen as a catalyst for change and an all-black version in South Africa was perceived as a call to end apartheid.
One critic, Vivian Mercier memorably described it as a play “in which nothing happens twice”. Ms McDonagh said that there is a “grey zone” in this play between “existential terror” and “vaudeville theatre”. Pace and rhythm are important in allowing the “musicality of the prose” to flow through.
The set was described as “visually strong” with a “touch of the surreal”.  The large rock was strong and provided a good area for action. Yet the adjudicator wondered about the two-dimensional tree and questioned whether it provided the beauty that Beckett intended as a symbol of hope.
The clothing of the two lead characters was “dirty and grimy”, with the make-up of Estragon (Gogo) suggesting a clown (albeit a very downbeat one). There was “the touch of a country squire” in Pozzo’s costume in Act 1.
The change of light for Vladimir’s lament in Act 2 was praised, though questions were raised over some aspects of the lighting. The sound effects (overseen by Dylan Connolly) created the required “sense of bleakness”.
The Director (Sean Treanor) brought the audience “on a journey to a desolate place”. The adjudicator commended “strong moments” such as Lucky’s speech and collapse in Act 1, and the foot sequence and hat exchange between the two leads.
Ms McDonagh felt that occasionally the movement on stage was “too busy” which took away from the necessary “stillness”. Beckett’s writing is specific in conveying a sense of “inertia and pointlessness”, she pointed out. In Act 2, however, the rhythm was much better, and the off-stage wailing prior to Pozzo’s entrance was favourably highlighted.
There were “significant moments of comedy” in this production but the adjudicator wondered if the link between the comedy and the sense of existential terror felt by the leads was conveyed strongly enough.
Turning to the acting displays, the adjudicator noted that the “interdependence” of the two lead characters is an important element, and this was shown in different ways such as by their holding of hands. She felt they were “more upbeat” than she had expected.
Estragon (Donal O’Hanlon) was “dour and grumpy” and showed his struggle to deal with the simplest problem. His “slouched body language” and physical comedy in the boot sequence was also telling.
Vladimir (Lowry Hodgett) was a “curious” and “prowling” figure on stage. His attempt at singing and his imitation of Lucky’s speech were praised, and he effectively conveyed a sense of isolation and frustration towards the end.
The role of the enslaved servant Lucky requires great focus and discipline as he must be still for long periods. This actor (Sean Markey) demonstrated “great control” and was suitably “pathetic”, according to the adjudicator. The delivery of his “nonsensical speech” was lauded as he appeared to have invested it with “internal logic” that made sense to him.
Pozzo (Turlough Trainor) had “a rich and vibrant voice” and he used it to “powerful effect” in Act 1 to assert his dominance. His transformation in Act 2 was notable but Ms McDonagh suggested that he needed to show “more frailty and panic” to highlight the stark contrast from his earlier appearance. The Boy (Daire Downey) showed “a lovely sense of innocence” and “stillness”.
Overall, the adjudicator felt this was “a highly visual interpretation of Beckett’s classic” and it raised the “existential questions” provoked by the author’s writing.