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Culture Fringe Theatre Theatre

Fringe 2022: Godot is a Woman Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s 2022 and we are still waiting… Or are we?

Eighth in line, anxiously crowded around a telephone, three suited and booted clowns are waiting, but not for Godot.  

In 1952, the influential Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett, specified only men could play the two central roles, Vladimir and Estragon, in his most famous play, Waiting for Godot. Beckett has become a central figure in the debate between artistic license clashing with authorial copyright, excluding over half the population from performing his work. Therefore, this non-male trio, is unsurprisingly waiting for the rights from the Beckett estate to perform one of the most famous postmodern plays of the twentieth century. Their answer is only met with painfully tiresome elevator music and the cool-candid voice of the answering machine – which not only antagonised the actors, but me too. And thus, they wait.

Parallels are drawn directly to Beckett’s abstract cyclical speech and minimalist moments: grating carrots, recurring hugs and swapping hats. The beauty in the bleakness Beckett created was demonstrated with the continuous hum of giggles. The postmodern tragicomedy is characterised by the fundamental breakdown of plot – yet unlike Beckett’s work, Godot is a Woman refuses to wait around. It moves on. What initially appears as a parody of Beckett’s art of nothingness, transforms itself into a wild feminist factual dance show, with moves you would expect to see on a Saturday night from a hen party. We are transported seamlessly from radio broadcast to court room, from science lab to the disco dance floor. The staging was genius with timing to perfection. I absolutely loved the fluidity between the actors: not only amusingly swapping characters between themselves, but also returning to their true selves to share their story. Jack Wakely discusses being non-binary and Cordelia Stevenson refuses to be degraded and deformed.

Their argument: simple. Waiting for Godot is a play about humanity; therefore, how can the universal shared experience be represented, depending on what lies between our legs. The world is moving, and we should not sit still and wait with Didi and Gogo. The death of Beckett and the release of Madonna’s Like a Prayer in 1989, highlights the intertextuality of our world and the change that has gone on. Brilliantly executed, entertaining and educational, each snippet of a female pop song punctuates key feminist landmarks in the 21st century.

Silent Faces’ unique, punk twist not only draws attention to the issues of classical texts copyright, but I left the production feeling seen, empowered, and with the knowledge of where exactly to locate a prostate. This energetic and empowering performance from a tour de force trio is a must see for all feisty feminists and Beckett lovers. It is a glimpse into the future of theatre.

Godot is a Woman: 12:50 Aug 7-9, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28 at the Queen’s Dome at Pleasance Dome.

Image: Silent Faces Theatre company, provided to The Student as press material.