Pygmalion. Headlong/West Yorkshire Playhouse/ Nuffield theatre Southampton at Liverpool Playhouse.

Production photograph by Manuel Harlan.

I love Bernard Shaw’s work so if you are going to play with the text and leave out/ rewrite/ distort whole scenes of one of his best known plays, Pygmalion, and expect me to like it you are on dangerous ground. I haven’t read the reviews of the co-production I saw at Liverpool playhouse between Headlong and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but I’m quite sure that some people will not like that idea at all, however well it is done, and if the production hasn’t worked it will sink without trace. It’s a brave thing to do and the director Sam Pritchard has expected a lot of his actors and laid himself on the line. Once or twice it made me lay back my ears a bit but it still managed to carry me along and kept me onside.

Shaw himself was not afraid of comparing himself to Shakespeare and part of me thinks that he would be outraged at not being able to hear every word of his precious script. Another part of me imagines that the man who campaigned for a new phonetic alphabet would have been delighted at the playfulness and attack of the cast as they juggled accents, lip-synched recorded voices and distorted their lines in the opening scene. He would also have been delighted that his best writing was still there exactly as he wanted it and shone as brightly as ever. Doolittle’s great speech, Mrs Higgins disastrous at home- a comic masterpiece- and the moving scenes at the end between Higgins and Eliza were all (literally) showcased and given full weight allowing the actors to fly. Natalie Gavin and Alex Beckett were both heartfelt and true to the original characters and it was this that held the show together. Without their belief and commitment there would have just been two hours of a director enjoying being clever. Audiences need to have people on stage that they can relate to and understand. My heart lifted at the end when the two of them were given space to spark off each other and show some real emotion as that always impresses me far more than directors imposing their own ideas on a play. I also liked Liza Sadovy as Mrs Higgins and Raphael Sowole as Colonel Pickering very much.

The design by Alex Lowde works very well, especially the giant vitrine on stilts, which forms the set for Mrs Higgins front room and later her conservatory. It was both beautiful and appropriate for a play which is all about appearances and social conventions.

In short they were flying close to the wind to make this work- we even heard a bit of My Fair Lady from Eliza as she rode in a taxi on screen- but thanks to some truthful acting and the fact the fact that they left the best of Shaw’s writing alone they got away with it and this is a really interesting and thought provoking new look at a play that is over a hundred years old.

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Beryl. West Yorkshire Playhouse at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. 30-10-15

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Samantha Power as Beryl Burton. Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

Beryl Burton was not born to be a great athlete, she became perhaps the greatest cyclist that Britain has ever produced by sheer hard work and force of will at a time when cycling- however good you were- did not bring huge fame and money. Maxine Peake’s play, Beryl, tells her life story, showing us how an ordinary Yorkshire lass without the advantages of money or good health became someone truly remarkable. I don’t believe in the trite adage that “you can achieve anything that you want to” but Beryl’s story is enough to make you wonder.

The writing itself, which is cleverly structured and well done, but not especially memorable in itself, does a simple job of telling a story which is well worth hearing. What does make the play memorable is the stagecraft and the teamwork of the four actors. Samanth Power, Rebecca Ryan, John Elkington and Dominic Gately. They get the tone exactly right, down to earth, sparky and friendly. It is harder to bring off than it seems, full of quick timing, hard physical work, fast changes of mood and technical details which the actors need to be aware of. The writing uses this aspect of the play self-consciously and it is full of wit and charm. Alongside this we need to see real, believable characters who we can get behind, or it might have seemed an empty technical exercise, and right from the start, smiling at us as they get things ready, the cast make sure that we are on their side. Beryl herself is a gift of a part and Samantha Power is both likeable and engaging- a convincing embodiment of everything that we hear talked about. Take away the cycling and there really isn’t much drama in Beryl’s life. She was poorly with Rheumatic fever as a child, worked incredibly hard to achieve and maintain fitness, had a long, happy marriage and a daughter who followed in her footsteps. She finally died on her bike at the age of 59 having pushed herself to the limit all her life. The drama within the cycling, which has to be at the heart of the play, is cleverly staged using back projection and real bikes on stands and it works beautifully. This is down to some really clever direction from Rebecca Gatward which is at least as important as the writing- not something that can be said often.

This is an unashamed tribute to someone who thoroughly deserves it, a roll call of a life well lived and her considerable achievements. One of Beryl’s records still stands today in spite of all the advantages of modern cycling. We were not just applauding a piece of theatre at the end, we were applauding the spirit of a great Yorkshire woman and there’s nothing we like doing better than that here in Yorkshire.

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Beryl Burton in 1967.

Sweeney Todd. West Yorkshire Playhouse. 17-10-13

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Production photograph by Manuel Harlan.

There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit
and it’s filled with people who are filled with shit!
And the vermin of the world inhabit it…

Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is probably the closest a musical could come to being an opera, in fact I’d find it hard to explain why it isn’t one. It’s a bravura piece of writing with enormous scope, technically hugely demanding, a piece of grand guignol with heart, bleak and unafraid. It doesn’t do anything by halves and nor should any company who attempt it. You either succeed magnificently or fall flat on your face. I love it very much.

Sweeney Todd, the “demon barber of Fleet street” who despatched his victims from his barber’s chair as an act of vengeance against a world which had wronged him terribly and made the bodies into pies, with the help of his accomplice Mrs Lovett, began life in a Victorian penny dreadful. It took hold of the Victorian imagination immediately as stories which play on people’s fears often do. Worries about what might be inside the cheap pies that people bought on the street have modern resonances and anyone who has seen a cut throat razor knows why it received and kept its nickname. Sondheim has added a strange poignancy and beauty to the shocking thrills of the original story.

As soon as I sat down in my front row seat to be faced with a bleak collection of mentally ill people who had been discarded by society, eking out their day to the sound of Karen Carpenter’s angelic voice singing Close To You over and over again, crackling out from a rickety sound system I knew that I need have no worries. It was an inspired choice. The strange juxtaposition of beauty and emptiness which lies at the heart of the score had been understood. The chilling opening number sprung directly out of this world and the tone was set.

The musicianship is very fine throughout and there is some strong singing and committed character work from the whole company. Sweeney and Mrs Lovett are the kind of virtuoso parts which you need to cast before you know whether you have a show or not, parts which an actor will wait all their lives to play. David Birrell is mesmerising as Sweeney and attacks the part with great presence and energy. Vocally he is impeccable. Gillian Bevan gives us a very truthful and astute reading of Mrs Lovett. I could understand exactly why she was doing what she did while at the same time being appalled by it. The pair are a great team and strike sparks off each other, just as they should. There is humour in the song Priest which forms the climax of the first half, but not as much as there can be. In this production it is very clear that the energy and black humour of it springs directly out of the magnificent sequence before it, Epithany, when Sweeney Todd finally declares vengeance on the world and his path of violence and amorality is set. There is a deep sexual tension and desperation behind Mrs Lovett’s invention. Her idea for the pie shop grows out of her own fear of Sweeney and her obsession with someone who is now clearly a monster and this worked perfectly for me. I also feel that I want to single out Don Gallagher’s chilling performance as Judge Turpin and Michael Peavoy is very touching as Anthony Hope but the whole cast are relishing their chance to tackle this score and their characterisation and concentration is a joy to watch.

The design by Colin Richmond sets the action in a grubby, almost deserted hinterland of ship containers and grey cold walls, a perfect backdrop full of telling detail. I loved the pie shop counter full of things that you really should not eat- every godforsaken cafe you have ever looked into through the window before you walked on past. The musical direction by George Dyer, a difficult task on a Sondheim show of this kind, is best judged by the flawless delivery of the cast. He must be very proud of them. James Brining has made a brave and accomplished start to his time as artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I am very fond of the Quarry theatre in particular and I am heartened to see that someone has taken it on who clearly understands what it can do. The stage of the Quarry theatre is made for a show like this.

As I walked into the auditorium the usher helped me past a lot of young people. “We’ve got two school parties in” she said apologetically, unsure of how I would react. I grinned at her. “Don’t worry- I think it will shut them up.” It did a lot more than that. At the end of the show those young people were cheering, some of them were on their feet and a few of them will have become theatregoers for life.

Sweeney wishes the world away,
Sweeney’s weeping for yesterday,
Hugging the blade, waiting the years,
Hearing the music that nobody hears.
Sweeney waits in the parlor hall,
Sweeney leans on the office wall.

Doctor Faustus. West Yorkshire Playhouse and Glasgow Citizens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. 7-3-13

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Siobhan Redmond as Mephistopheles.
Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is first recorded as being performed in 1594. By that time it was already a very old German legend, with a tendency to shape shift, which Marlowe recognised as a perfect vehicle for his talents as an atheist (a dangerous and unusual position to take in Elizabethan times) who was never afraid of danger or controversy. It has been making waves ever since, as it taps into something deep and disturbing in human nature, something which is both fascinating and terrifying. It is a fearless piece of drama, written at a time when religious belief and violence were at the heart of everyday life, by someone who knew what it was like to live on the edge, and it tackles mortality and morality head on. It was strong meat, bitterly attacked at the time, and well over 400 years later it is still a disturbing play to watch. For an Elizabethan audience hell fire and evil were a reality, almost universally feared and believed, and the idea of someone who is learned and respected willingly giving up their eternal salvation, promising their soul to the devil and accepting eternal damnation for short term earthly power and gain was a very resonant and powerful one. It was not an abstract idea for them, it was a present reality which they lived with and wondered over in an uncertain and dangerous world. You could die for your beliefs, or your lack of them, all too easily. Figures like John Dee, whose many studies included the occult and alchemy, were at the heart of the establishment, consulted and revered. The fact that a man could defy God and quite literally say to hell with the consequences for their own personal gain would have carried an enormous emotional charge and a contemporary relevance. There is a strong morality play element to Doctor Faustus as these consequences play out and we see his downfall. Marlowe has made him into a more sympathetic character, nobler at the outset than the Faust of the original legend and added a good and bad angel to emphasise his dilemma and the danger he is running throughout the play so that we can empathise with him and feel his fear. It is a difficult play to get right for modern eyes, as satirical references have been lost and some of the humour is strange to us. There has been rewriting along the way, right from it’s earliest days and volumes of scholarly argument written. It’s a real challenge to make the central part of it work.

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Kevin Trainor as Faustus.
Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

The production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse ( a co-production with Glasgow Citizens) takes a strong line as it attempts to solve these difficulties and follows it through meticulously, with two acts rewritten by Colin Teevan, who gets a dual writer’s credit with Marlowe himself. Doctor Faustus becomes a modern day celebrity magician and falls prey to the worst of celebrity culture, in thrall to his female assistant Mephistopheles. It works well, with the cast sitting backstage behind their dressing room mirrors watching the action, ready for when their time comes to be part of it. From the moment they set their alarm clocks there is going to be no escape for him and they are all a part of his fate. Dominic Hill has directed a very tight show and the whole cast are well drilled and on their mettle the whole time, many of them playing a number of parts. There are many nice small touches. I enjoyed the way Faustus’ bride leapt into action at short notice for example- one of a series of nice cameos from Alasdair Hankinson- and there is a clever use of magical tricks throughout. The costumes are terrific and the seedy backstage setting by designer Colin Richmond works well. The humour is well judged and doesn’t detract from the inevitable kick in the teeth which the play delivers at the end. There are some fine performances among the supporting cast. Oliver Wilson is outstanding as the bad angel, full of charisma and energy, and I liked the contrast with Ann Louise Ross’ good angel, a prim, churchgoing pillar of respectability with a hint of toughness as she watches the downfall of Faustus, knitting like a spectator at the guillotine. She tries to save him but she is old enough and wise enough to know beyond doubt what is coming and she isn’t going to waste tears over it. Leah Brotherhead is very moving as Wagner, the only character in the production who is truly full of warmth and heart.

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Siobhan Redmond as Mephistopheles.
Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

The play stands or falls on the two central performances, that of Kevin Trainor as Faustus and Siobhan Redmond as Mephistopheles and both are played with real commitment. Siobhan Redmond has great dignity on stage as Mephistopheles and weaves a sense of danger and understated evil around herself to great effect. She looks amazing and moves beautifully, speaking the verse with great clarity and it is a very powerful performance indeed. Kevin Trainor as Faustus delivers what is asked of him with enormous commitment and energy. I admired his performance but I felt that to give me the Faustus that I really wanted to see he would have needed a different production. I’m not sure that I was shown a learned and dignified man, setting him in a shallow celebrity culture didn’t really allow that, and you need to feel the loss of a potentially great spirit for the play to work fully. That, along with the fact that the modern setting diluted the vice like grip of fifteenth century culture and belief which gives the play its real kick, were the major drawbacks of the rewriting and resetting of the play for me.

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Alasdair Hankinson, Leah Brotherhead and Gary Lilburn.
Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

This is a fascinating production which does exactly what it sets out to do with great clarity and it made me think about the play in a fresh way- you can’t ask for a lot more than that really. Plays of this period will always survive whatever you throw at them so long as it is done with intelligence and integrity and there is always something new to find in them.

The Real Thing. West Yorkshire Playhouse. 24-05-12

Love among the architect classes. Again.”

Gerald Kyd as Henry and Marianne Oldham as Annie.
Production photograph by Keith Pattison.

Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play The Real Thing, one of his most successful, has been given a sparkling revival at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. It is a fast, witty, clever and perfectly constructed play and it has dated strikingly little in the thirty years since it was first put on, as love, marriage and relationships are an unchanging subject. People remain people over the years and human emotions remain as messy and complicated as they ever were. The Real Thing is the story of just one more of those messes, when two marriages are broken by infidelity, and how it works out.

 Henry, the central character, is “one of those intellectual playwrights” so it should be no surprise that Stoppard gets him exactly right. He is sharp, charming and too articulate for his own good. When he hears his daughter sounding too much like him he warns her against it. At one point he describes words as sacred, innocent, neutral and precise, but at heart he is a romantic and the play is his journey towards understanding this and accepting the reality and danger of his own feelings and emotions. It costs him his first marriage and threatens his second but finally he is able to take an enormous risk and make himself vulnerable and open, able to be hurt. It’s a lovely part, a character who is complex and begins by being rather unlikeable until we warm to him slowly as his emotions open up, and Gerald Kyd understands him perfectly. It is a witty and intelligent performance, like watching an actor dancing on a tightrope of words provided by Stoppard.

The two women in his life, his first and second wives Charlotte and Annie are both very well played by Sarah Ball and Marianne Oldham. Charlotte never really managed to understand Henry in time to save their relationship, as she admits herself towards the end of the play, and her quiet regret at what she has lost is very touching. Annie is a part which needs a lot of charm and presence. She is the woman who finally manages to break Henry open and allow him to access what he needs to be truly happy and it takes someone special to do that. Marianne Oldham has the kind of luminous charm on stage that makes you believe that she could do that.

Annie’s first husband Max, a small but vital part, is beautifully played by Simon Scardifield. The most moving moment in the production, for me, was the moment early on when he realises that he has lost Annie and falls apart. We never see the consequences for him but that reaction leaves us in no doubt what they will be. The other minor characters, Henry’s daughter, Annie’s fellow actor Billy, and Brodie, the left wing rebel whose cause Annie takes up when he is imprisoned. are nicely played but not nearly so well drawn by Stoppard. In particular I don’t feel that he really gets under the skin of Brodie, and that is a missed opportunity.

The set is cool, classy and designed much in the style of the original production by Simon Higlett and allows swift progress from one scene to the next. It is quite beautifully lit by Paul Pyant. Technically the production is flawless.

So why am I not totally convinced, in spite of all the complimentary things that I have just said, that this is a genuinely great play? Perhaps it is because a play about love should have real fire and passion. It should have power enough to break your heart. Annie is playing in Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Miss Julie during the course of The Real Thing and both of those plays can do that in spades. A great production of either of them will leave you feeling like you have had the stuffing knocked out of you. As clever, sparkling and perfectly constructed as The Real Thing undoubtedly is it didn’t quite do that for me. Maybe I’m asking too much.

Mary Shelley. Shared Experience Nottingham Playhouse and the West Yorkshire Playhouse at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. 05-04-12

The essence of love is freedom.  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Kristin Atherton as Mary Shelley and Ben Lamb as Percy Shelley.
Production photograph by Robert Day.

The first thing that I would like to say about Mary Shelley, a co-production between Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is that it is, first and foremost, a very clever piece of writing by Helen Edmundson, economical, sparse and true. This is important given the subject matter- a lot of writers would have failed to make it live. It is a real joy to see a production which is underpinned by such a firm foundation and it gives the actors the best chance that they could possibly hope for. The subject matter is the birth of Mary Shelley’s creative imagination. She returns home to the stifling claustrophobic rooms above her father and stepmother’s failing bookshop, bursting into the heart of a bitter marriage and filling her sisters with fresh ideals and new ideas after spending time in Edinburgh. She is now a sixteen year old on the verge of womanhood, no longer a child, and she is ready to charge the barricades against her stepmother and the family’s repression of the memory of her mother. When she meets young Percy Shelley, who is fiercely amoral, handsome and single-mindedly creative, the blue touch paper is lit. Nothing is ever going to be the same. Her own creative fire is now burning, but at great cost to herself and her family, and the play is an examination of whether this cost is ever worth paying. Should one person’s pursuit of their own need for creativity, however talented they are, give them permission to ignore the needs and desires of those around them? It is a big subject.

William Chubb as William Godwin.
Production photograph by Robert Day.

There are some fine performances. Mary herself is played by Kristin Atherton with a luminous joy and energy that allows you to believe in her talent, and Shannon Tarbert as her young step sister Jane portrays a wayward young woman who is carried along by those around her and doesn’t really think too deeply about anything. She is very much her mother’s daughter, and Sadie Shimmin as Mrs Godwin shows us what she may become. Mrs Godwin is not an easy woman, but we can see exactly why this is in Sadie Shimmin’s performance. There is a touching desperation behind her complaints and grumbles which makes her live as a real person. Ben Lamb is a talented and stylish young actor and I liked his performance as Percy Shelley very much but I felt that there was a hint of danger missing there. Shelley was a prodigiously talented young man who was prepared to destroy other people’s lives to get what he wanted, both emotionally and creatively, and for me this ruthlessness was not quite at the heart of his performance. The two performances which I fell in love with were William Chubb’s as William Godwin, Mary’s father, and Flora Nicholson as Mary’s half sister Fanny.William Chubb has great timing and his performance was full of irony and understatement. As you watched him you could see the wheels of his characters mind working and it doesn’t get much better for an audience than that. Very fine work indeed- particularly in his final scene with Mary. When it came to the cost of Mary’s creativity it was her sister Fanny who really ended up paying the greatest price. Watching her selfless dedication to her family at the cost of her own dreams- dreams which it didn’t occur to anyone else that she might have- and her final heartbreak when she realised that she simply couldn’t break free and join the lifestyle that Mary, Percy and Jane had embraced, even though she had thought that she was prepared to do just that, was enough to break your heart. I was near enough to the front to see her tears so I know.

Kristin Atherton as Mary Shelley and Flora Nicholson as Fanny Godwin.
Production photograph by Robert Day.

There is some wonderful trademark Shared Experience movement work, mostly by Flora Nicholson, and some powerfully expressive moments such as the dead baby who came back to life in Mary’s dream and vanished in the unwinding of a sheet. I would have liked much more of this. Those kind of ideas and expressionism could have been pushed much further in the telling of a story of this kind. The set is a claustrophobic array of bookcases covered in books and papers, a futile intellectual barricade against the unstoppable rush of emotions which is unleashed by Mary’s meeting with Shelley and a constant reminder of the weight of the past. Polly Teale has great taste in the way she has directed material which needed to be delicately handled and the whole piece zips along very nicely. This is a cracker of a story very well told and I’m glad that I had the chance to see it.

Waiting For Godot. West Yorkshire Playhouse and Talawa Theatre Company. West Yorkshire Playhouse

Waiting For Godot is one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century. It brings us face to face with what it means to be human, what it really means when you strip away all the distractions and consolations that we surround ourselves with, and it allows us no escape. Like Vladimir and Estragon we are also forced to wait, and even when we claim to be going somewhere we are still in the same place, still human, still faced with our own mortality. While this is undeniably bleak, especially given that Beckett does not allow his characters the consolation of faith in a divine being (there is a reason why Godot never turns up) and there are some searingly chilling statements and speeches, there is also great humour and absurdity in the human condition. Beckett is a fearless writer, and because he is prepared to face the reality of being human head on he is also able to show the absurdity behind our predicament and allow us to laugh along with the pain. Few writers have ever tackled this to such magnificent effect. It is scary stuff- not for the faint hearted- but if you allow yourself to feel the chill of the brevity of human life in speeches like:

“Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the gravedigger puts on the forceps.”

then you will feel the exhilaration of knowing that even in the face of that it is still possible to find joy.

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.”

Jeffrey Kissoon and Patrick Robinson. Production still by Richard Hubert Smith.

We are all waiting and we always have been, but people are still finding happiness, still loving. As Vladimir says in one of the plays most famous motifs, “there is nothing to be done.” What Beckett does, after showing us this reality, is celebrate the fact that the human spirit can carry on, driven by an inner strength and kindness in the face of tragedy and absurdity, and avoid despair. Vladimir and Estragon will be back again to wait as each new day dawns and however tedious and painful they may find it they will never give in. They may talk about hanging themselves but they won’t. There is something rather magnificent about that. They have accepted themselves and the reality of their situation in a way that Pozzo and Lucky, their “visitors” have not. Both Pozzo and Lucky are still fighting against the reality of their mortality, Pozzo by his cruelty and self obsession which gives him an illusion of control over his destiny, and Lucky by a mute acceptance which is a kind of blinkered anger, allowed release in only one terrifying burst showing us the horror of his interior turmoil when he allows it to surface.

Fisayo Akinade. Production still by Richard Hubert Smith.

Just these few thoughts will already make it clear to someone who is new to the play that this is not theatre for beginners. If you are going to put this one on stage you had better know exactly what you are doing or you are going to fall flat on your face. You can’t hide the fact that you don’t know what you are doing by extravagant scenery as Beckett stipulates that Vladimir and Estragon are waiting by a single tree, nor can you rely on flashy costumes, or improvisation. The dialogue is circular and choppy, cutting between the characters constantly, and it is built like a house of cards. If you want to succeed there is no alternative to simply understanding what the play is about. It’s a huge challenge and the only way to tackle it, particularly for the actors, is to jump in feet first and immerse yourself. Brave writing demands brave acting!

The 2012 production at the West Yorkshire Playhouse is a co- production with Talawa Theatre Company. Talawa is an all black theatre company but while there are added resonances in the play to be found from this fact, I am going to gloss over this aspect as Beckett is just about as universal a writer as you can get and the only thing that matters is being human. The cast are all extraordinary actors who understand exactly what they are doing. Jeffery Kissoon and Patrick Robinson are a fine pairing as Vladimir and Estragon. Their timing is great, very important for the vaudeville elements of the couple’s interaction, and they are both very expressive, able to make us feel pathos and humour in quick succession. There is a wonderful moment where they hug and then slowly extricate themselves unsure just what they may have done, and we can feel the history between two characters who have relied on each other and endured so much for so long.

Guy Burgess. Production still by Richard Hubert Smith.

Cornell S John and Guy Burgess were a revelation to me as Pozzo and Lucky, even though I know the play quite well and have seen it more than once. Cornell S John gave a performance of great style and attack which dug below the surface of the mindless cruelty of the character and allowed us to wonder at the reasons for it. As we saw more of him we were shown that it came from a compulsive need to control and dominate born out of his own sense of inadequacy and impotence in the face of despair. Guy Burgess as Lucky was both moving and terrifying in his stillness. His outburst of anger and despair was no surprise when Pozzo finally allowed him to speak. You had seen in his eyes from the moment he came on stage. A very fine actor indeed.

I am not going to forget Fisayo Akinade’s stage debut as the boy either. Being able to give a performance which is still and understated is not as easy as it seems and he has got off to a great start.

This was Ian Brown’s final production as director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. He has given us ten very successful years and we have a lot to thank him for. I am glad that he will be back as a freelance director. I am sure that it is his guiding hand and understanding of the play  which lies behind a lot of the things which I admired about this production. Not that you would notice. He has allowed his actors to shine as the best directors always do.

I find Waiting For Godot deeply moving, quite terrifying and sometimes very funny. This production was able to give me that. I couldn’t really ask for more.