Last night I went to see 'Waiting for Godot'....
A: (Breathless) Sorry I’m late
B: I don’t think you are.
A: Oh that’s OK then. Do we need to collect the tickets?
B: No I’ve got them. We can go straight in. Let’s go and have a drink in the circle bar. Are you alright? (They go into the foyer)
A: Just let me get my breath back I ran up the escalator at Piccadilly.
Usher: Tickets please. Thank you. The bar is on your right at the top of the stairs.
A: The bloke from Star Wars is in this right?
B: Star Trek.
A: Ah yes of course. I’m looking forward to seeing him. I don’t suppose he’ll be wearing a bri-nylon jumper in this.
B: No he plays a tramp.
A: And the bloke who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings is in it too right?
A: Ah that explains it because Gollum was entirely computer generated wasn’t he and I couldn’t work out how he could be in this.
B: No this is Ian McKellen. He plays a tramp too. What do you want to drink?
A: Have they got a Merlot? If not any old red will do.
B: (To barmaid) A glass of dry white and a glass of red please and the same for the interval.
A: So they both play tramps eh. This play is famous isn’t it? I mean I know it’s all about waiting. Er for Godot obviously but there must be more to it than that. Have you seen it before?
B: A long time ago when I was at university. It made a big impression on me at the time.
A: So what’s it really about? Just generally. I don’t want you to spoil the ending or anything.
B: I think it’s about the futility of human existence but I couldn’t be sure.
A: Hmm. The futility of human existence?
B: Yes it’s a comedy.
A: Ah! There are jokes.
B: Oh yes plenty of jokes.
A: Thank God for that. I was worried that I might be in for a bit of a heavy evening.
B: (hands A his drink) Here. Cheers
B: How’s work?
A: Oh a bit grim really. I’m hanging on by my finger tips. I missed the last round of redundancies by a hairsbreadth and I don’t know what we’ll do if I do get the push. The payout won’t be much, I haven’t been there long enough and Audrey doesn’t earn enough to keep us. How about you? Have you and Gavin been affected by the credit crunch.
B: We’ve lost a couple of clients but nothing drastic.
A: And living together is working out. Are you still in that basement in Hackney?
B: Yeah it’s great. We’re great.
A: You should get married. You can do that these days can’t you?
(Bar bells are rung)
B: Maybe. We should go in. We’re Row G 7 & 8.
(They enter the auditorium)
A: Oh that’s a shame. Why do they do that?
B: Why do they do what?
A: Show you the set when you come in. Why don’t they have the curtain in? It spoils it.
B: It’s this row. You go in first. What does it spoil?
A: Well I remember when Mum used to take Derek and me to the theatre when we were kids, we used to sit in the stalls and look at the curtain, which was always red and gold, and just before the show started they would play some music, like an overture. It was exciting. And then the houselights would go out and the curtain would go up to reveal the set and the audience would go “Ooh!” and if they really liked it they would clap. These days you walk into the theatre and there it is for all to see. I bet set designers these days are really pissed off, they never get a round of applause.
B: I don’t think set designers worry too much about a round of applause. Anyway it’s an impressive set. Full of opportunities don’t you think?
A: It’s OK. It looks a bit like the place where Harry and his mates go skateboarding.
B: How is Harry getting on?
A: Not bad. GCSEs this year so he is getting a bit stressed.
B: And Molly?
A: Fine too. Still mad on ballet but we’ve managed to keep her away from horses.(Pause) Apart from the tree of course.
A: There’s no tree at the skateboard park. It would be dangerous to have a tree in the middle of a skateboard park.
B: Of course. Oh here we go. They’re starting.
(Fade out to silence)
(Fade up to hear the applause at the end of Act 1)
B: Quick go through the side door. We’ll get to the bar first. What do you think of it so far?
A: A longish first act I would say. Is it longer than your normal first act? There seem to be a lot of pauses. It would be quicker if there were less pauses.
B: They’re what are known as dramatic pauses I think.
A: Even so. I mean are these two, Ian McKellen and the Star Trek bloke, are they pause specialists? I mean George Clooney doesn’t do pauses, Brad Pitt doesn’t do pauses. If George Clooney and Brad Pitt were doing it that act would have been at least ten minutes shorter. Do some actors do pauses and some not?
A: Take Pulp Fiction. There are no pauses in that. The actors are going hell for leather the whole time either talking or shooting. Do actors have to able to do both, pauses or no pauses? Do they have to be adaptable? Anyway apart from the pauses it was OK I suppose. The mute one who suddenly spoke gibberish for twenty minutes was ….impressive.
A: No impressive
B: No. Lucky is the name of the character.
A: Oh right. Whatever. I presume Godot turns up in the second act to resolve things. It must be a bit dull for the actor that plays Godot having to sit around doing nothing in act one.
B: You’ll have to wait and see.
A: Absolutely! Don’t spoil it for me. Actually to be honest this is more Audrey’s kind of thing than mine. She likes arty foreign films. Personally I can’t be bothered with the subtitles and there are a lot of pauses in foreign films you know. She belongs to the local film society and sometimes she drags me along. A couple of months ago I had to sit through an interminable Russian epic which started with a speck in the distance, a rider galloping towards the camera, and bloody hell, you know what? I could have popped across the road had a pint, gone to the loo, washed my hands three times, come back and that rider would still have been a bloody mile from the camera.
B: Andrei Rublev
A: Bless you! Ha the best jokes are the old ones!
B: Very funny. Andrei Rublev is a masterpiece and you’re a philistine. Shall we go back in?
(Fade to silence)
(Fade up final curtain call)
B: Extraordinary! Don’t you think?
B: No really. Wasn’t that just extraordinary.
A: Absolutely.(pause) A shame in some ways that Godot didn’t come. Things would have been clearer.
B: I think the whole point is that things aren’t clear.
A: Aren’t they?
B: (exasperated) Oh for Christ’s sake! No of course they’re not.
A: Not what?
B: Clear. Nothing is clear.
A: Right. Which way are you going? I’m walking up to Piccadilly.
B: (irritably) Er. I’ll get a bus from Trafalgar Square.
A: I mean I sort of understand what you are on about but I think one should always look for clarity. Don’t you agree?
B: Well yes but…
A: I did think a bit more about this pause business in the second half, because there were probably even more pauses in Act 2 than Act 1 and it made me think about Jenkins in the office. Now he’s a decent bloke a bit dull but decent enough and to be honest there’s not much to do in the office these days so in the afternoon we sometimes have a conversation.
B: A conversation?
A: Yes and because we have so much time on our hands we sort of stretch the conversation out and during Act 2 it occurred to me that some of the pauses that Jenkins and I have in the afternoon are even longer than the pauses in the play. We stretch the conversation out to fill the available time. I mean you could drive a Panzer Division through some of the pauses that Jenkins and I have in the afternoons. We’re much better at pauses than these guys. It’s a case of art holding up a mirror to life. Am I right? Is the play about filling the time available?
A: Right. Excellent! We must do this again. Love to Gavin.