Waiting for directions

18th November 1994 at 00:00
Waiting for Godot, By Samuel Beckett, New Victoria Theatre, North Staffordshire. If anyone lacks direction it is Beckett's wayfaring quartet, so there is an aptness in the New Vic's cast deciding to go-it-alone without a director. The need to understand characters' motivation directly means it is very clear why each line is spoken; the number originating in bodily necessities is remarkable.

There is a strong contrast between Paul McCleary's speculative Vladimir, staring at the skies, and Gary Lilburn's fine Estragon, focusing on his boot, foot or the ground. Lilburn's perplexity at the problems of the instant is occasionally varied by wide-smiling delight when he feels he has helped Pozzo.

Lennox Greaves' Pozzo is less vulnerable than many during act one, tying the character clearly to ancestors like Oedipus and Lear's Gloucester for whom blindness came with insight. The far end of his rope is a noose round the neck of Stefan Marling's sullen, defiant Lucky. Judging by the student whisperings behind me, and the interval evacuation along the row, there remained problems. A director might have tightened the action (those motivating reactions add up in time) and have shaped sections to explore the humour further. Pozzo's second act visit could be sharpened too. Liz Evans' design and Jo Dawson's lighting, skilfully evoking night at the end of each act, are both strong.

Until November 26. Running time 3 hrs. Tickets 0782 717962.

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