Though I’d consider us to be reasonably cultured when it comes to music, art and literature, I will admit that there is a gaping hole in our knowledge and experience of the theatre. It’s not that we’ve disliked or failed to enjoy anything we’ve seen, it’s just an area of the arts that has never quite captivated us enough to draw us in as regular theatre goers. Except, whilst in Cheltenham in early January, we spotted a poster.
I picked up the handbill and pointed the names of the actors to my Hero. Who’d have thought that our favourite circus clown Tweedy would be a star in “the most significant play of the 20th Century”? Neither of us had ever seen Waiting for Godot and we agreed that this could be a good opportunity. When we looked at our diaries, went to the booking website and discovered that all the tickets for last night were £15 each, it was a no brainer. We snagged the last two tickets in the back row of the stalls, booked a pre-theatre supper at Bills opposite and looked forward to a night out.
No surprise that it was a full house last evening, then, and funny that we encountered several friends and acquaintances too. Are they all regular theatre goers or were they, like us, drawn in by cheap tickets and a clown?
The Sunday Times quote on the handbill: “Go and see Waiting for Godot. At the worst you will discover a curiosity, a four-leaved clover, a black tulip; at the best, something that will securely lodge in a corner of your mind for as long as you live.”
Well, yes. Whilst the acting was terrific - how on earth do those two characters remember all of those lines, deliver them so well and keep the whole thing going for two and a quarter hours? There’s no doubt that Tweedy is a superbly agile performer and his co-star Jeremy Stockwell proved equally talented in that respect - I hadn’t realised there was quite so much clowning around in what I had assumed to be a serious play.
But it does go on. And on. We were a well behaved and mostly very attentive audience, though at one point in the second act I noticed my Hero’s eyes had closed and the sixth formers in front of us were starting to get a bit fidgety.
Yes, it was certainly very clever; the writing was brilliant and the plot…well, suffice to say that although we were quite relieved when the curtain came down at the end, we are still talking about it. From time to time one of us will share a thought that’s been niggling away for a while, so clearly, The Sunday Times is correct about it lodging in a corner of our minds. Yes, the experience will probably stay with us too! But do we need to see it again? Probably not. Not even in French.
Best of all, we didn’t have to go back to school and write an essay about it.