Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Waiting for Godot in Doha

Last weekend we headed for high culture in Doha when a touring French theatre company arrived with a production of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" ("En attendant Godot") at the National Theatre.

The company was young and chose to play Estragon (Gogo) as an androgynous character played by a woman. Her voice and mannerisms did not give the sense of age that the character needs. In general the youth of the cast failed to carry the weariness of age that Beckett intended.
Again, the stylised comedy of the french failed to carry the slap-stick and rapid fire physical comedy that sustains the play through the meandering talk that keeps the characters frozen in their waiting.
The troupe was a family based one so had made the decision to cast the son of the woman playing Estragon as the messenger boy. He was both stage conscious and vocally weak so that the delivery of Godot's message was inaudible so the audience was not informed of the hopelessness of the wait in a world devoid of stimulus for living.
The dialogue did not appear to carry the same weight as I know from the english text and as my french is minimal I didn't fully follow the actors' presentation. I some how suspect that some of the script had been pruned especially Lucky's long nonsensical monologue about the presence or absence of god.
Despite the absence of publicity the production attracted 200+ people. Mainly ex-pats from the french community and the universities here in Doha.

Frank and I were seated behind the French, German and Japanese ambassadors and members of the Qatari aristocracy.. which gave the production a lot of credibility.

The theatre was a beautiful, well designed venue that would be the envy of any New Zealand Theatre Company in a major city. The sound and visual lines were clear and ideal for that audience.

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