Warten auf Godot [German], which is – as you might have guessed – the German title of Waiting for Godot is the current production of the play by Samuel Beckett at the Burgtheater in Vienna. [My review of the book here.] It stars Michael Maertens, Ernst Stötzner, Ignaz Kirchner and Marcus Kiepe. [All actor links in German.]
Vladimir (Michael Maertens) and Estragon (Ernst Stötzner) are sitting in the middle for nowhere, waiting for Godot who will have a proposal for them that can drastically change their lives. It’s unclear how long they’ve been waiting but it seems to be a pretty long time. They pass the time with partly comical, partly tragic, partly non-sensical banter, joined for a short period by the pompous Pozzo (Ignaz Kirchner) and his slave Lucky (Marcus Kiepe).
The stage design of this production is fantastic and works really well. The actors are really good, too, even though I pictured Vladimir completely differently from what Maertens does. Though it has a few lengths (even though it cut one of my favourite parts of the play), it’s a thoroughly enjoyable piece of work.
Interestingly enough, the things that didn’t work when I read the play, worked perfectly well when I saw it. And things that struck me as really sad while reading, where actually funny when acted out. [Which tells me that I should never direct Waiting for Godot, lest it become a sobfest.]
Also, when I read the play, the first half seem to pass much more quickly than the second half (even though I liked the second half better) and watching it, it was exactly the other way round (though I still did like the second half better).
In the first act I was a little thrown by Maertens’ performance, I have to admit. His Vladimir is rather erratic, has a volatile temperament. The beginnings of that were visible when I read the play, but the Vladimir in my head was much calmer and a little warmer, more caring. But once I got used to this vision of Vladimir, I could lean back and really enjoy Maertens.
Ernst Stötzner was fantastic as well. His Estragon was exactly as I had pictured him. And Marcus Kiepe’s Lucky was even better than I had imagined. I didn’t care too much for Ignaz Kirchner’s Pozzo, though I’m not sure how much of that is Kirchner and how much Pozzo. [What an ass.]
Anyways, I was surprised how well the stage design worked (I have to admit that I didn’t think it would). The whole white part of the stage actually rocked slowly throughout the play and the sun and the moon kept rising/sinking and it just looked great.
Summarising, even though the first act had its lengths, it’s a show I can definitely recommend.