Review: Waiting for Godot is a work of art at Sheffield’s Crucible

Ben Goody in Waiting For Godot at Sheffield Crucible Theatre from February 4 to 27.
Ben Goody in Waiting For Godot at Sheffield Crucible Theatre from February 4 to 27.

According to Daniel Evans, the artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot ‘irrevocably changed the landscape of modern theatre’.

A production on the main stage of Sheffield’s Crucible is directed by Charlotte Gwinner with clarity and precision. The set, designed by Simon Daw, and inspired by surrealist paintings by Yves Tanguy, is a work of art and makes for a compelling visual experience.

The chemistry between the five actors works marvellously well. Lorcan Cranitch (Vladimir) and Jeff Rawle (Estragon) are consistently engaging, timing their exchanges to perfection. Richard Cordery (Pozzo) is a towering figure; the shift in his fortunes, from aristocratic bully to helpless outcast, is genuinely haunting. Bob Goody (Lucky) picks out the thread of meaning in his extended monologue, and delivers it with hypnotic conviction. The set facilitates an unusual entrance in both acts for the boy, providing one of many unforgettable moments. The tree, the rocks,the moon, the changing light, the shadows of the actors, all reflect Beckett’s interest in the look of his plays.

look of his plays. The canvas is vast, but the details are sharply observed.

The production brings to life some of the playwright’s themes – and makes them relevant to the present: loneliness, our need for each other, the small rituals that keep us going, the compensations of humour, the longing for some kind of resolution to life’s dilemmas, the way power operates, demeaning both the oppressed and the oppressor, the pathos of dementia, the unrelenting impact of time, the sheer strangeness of being alive.

Waiting For Godot continuntil February 27.