Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Beckett's masterpiece Godot even more profound in French

Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett
Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett

"In my opinion, Samuel Beckett's first play Waiting for Godot, at the Theatre de Babylone, will be spoken of for a long time," wrote French theatre critic Sylvain Zegel on the Paris premiere in 1953.

Half a century later, the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival offered another premiere – the first French production of Waiting for Godot in this country.

The Nono Theatre's brilliant performance of Beckett's signature play made a strong case for French as Waiting for Godot's natural interpretive language.

Christian Mazzuchini's stony-faced Vladimir and Noel Verges' cheerily optimistic Estragon dovetailed beautifully as Beckett's odd couple vagabonds trying to make sense of the world.

Serge Noyelle as Pozzo and Gregori Miege as Lucky were equally animated.

The young messenger boy was played by Martin Martinez and Lois Paul. Together, the cast acted with panache and nuance.

Significantly, they brought a degree of passion and outright hilarity occasionally missing from English language productions.

Mazzuchini, face whitened, evoked a soul-troubled Marcel Marceau.

With Verge, the duo nailed Beckett's slapstick inspired by Laurel and Hardy.

With refreshingly Gallic disregard for health and safety, Pozzo lit up a pipe on stage.

In a lively production, cracking whips, flying wigs and circus-style tumbling were the plat du jour.

The Nono Theatre's beguiling production was a reminder of life's absurdities and the comedy that lies therein, where all of us, like it or not, are principal actors.

Five stars

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