“We always find something…to give us the impression we exist”
I’ve had this little book, on my shelf at home, for as long as I can remember (left by a friend, once upon a when), which calls itself Waiting for Godot.
If you were to ask why I’ve never opened the book, I’m not sure i’d be able to give you an acceptable answer – in the time that I’ve been in possession (‘owned,’ is too strong a word; I fully intend to pass it on one day) of Samuel Beckett’s avowed masterpiece I’ve manged to read every Dan Brown book ever published – so, I have no excuse.
I think the honest answer is: I just always suspected that I wouldn’t fully understand the play if I was to try and consume it from the page.
After seeing Waiting… at the lovely Smock Alley theatre, I can’t express how glad I am that the cover was always too intimidating for me to open.
What can I say about Waiting for Godot? – well, surely nothing that hasn’t been said before: beautiful, incomparable, a work of genius that’s been distilled to it’s purest form.
Casting any pretense of modesty aside, I’ve read lot. In fact, I’ve probably even read a lot more than what is normally considered as, ‘a lot’, in the 21st Century; and I can say with certainty that Waiting… deserves to sit among the greatest pieces of writing I’ve ever come across.
There’s so much in the writing that’s exceptional, that only a fool would believe that they could truly define what makes its great. My personal favourite element is how barely a single word wasted, with many holding layer upon layer of meaning.
That’s why I used distilled in my description above, because that’s exactly how I experienced the play; what went unsaid was just as important as what the characters actually said. As I talked it over with my friend after, I described the play as a minimum information puzzle, which draws you towards your own conclusions, when considering what the story is truly about.
So, what is Waiting for Godot about? – well, the simple answer is that it’s about two fellows waiting for a man named Godot.
And that’s it, the plot right there, laid out in the three words of the title. Except that’s not what the story is about.
I can’t speak for everyone, but my thought was that the play is about time, or perhaps even about purgatory, or the atonement of sin: there’s four characters in the play, and I could argue that they have all been cursed as a sinner (the homosexuals, the slaver, the atheist), all of whom have been eternally damned, hoping for their redemption; awaiting God’s forgiveness or,at the very least, his acknowledgement of their existence.
“Tell him you saw us,” Vladimir (the condemned homosexual?) tells the boy (perhaps, an angel?), who’s only purpose is to break the news that Godot will in fact not be coming (today, or perhaps any day).
As I said though, what I loved was the meanings within meanings that every word contained; that the play itself was a puzzle we could each solve, and in our own way.
I’ve argued that it’s about purgatory here; I could also argue that it is a play about time, and how we experience it, the very nature of our mortality.
I could also argue that its a love story; nothing so superficial as our social media love affairs, but a story that tells us about love’s very essence.
But who am I to try and described a work of this magnitude. I’ve never read another review of Waiting for Godot, nor have I ever discussed it with a friend prior to seeing it in the theatre.
I’ve no doubt wiser minds than my own have talked, and talked (and talked), over every possible aspect and meaning that can be inferred – and I envy those that even think they can fully contain and understand writing that is so profoundly powerful.
All I can hope to do is encourage everyone who has the opportunity, to take the opportunity, to go and see Waiting for Godot for themselves.
[I went to see, ‘Waiting for Godot,’ in Dublin’s beautiful Smock Alley. I believe the run is now over, but I would encourage any and all visitors to, or residents of, Dublin City to make a point of catching a show there – I’ve had nothing be good luck with everything I’ve personally seen]