‘Waiting for Godot’ at Novas. Review

Notes on: Romanian Connections by Nicole Bartos

“Waiting for Godot”  & “Radu Stanca” National Theatre from Sibiu at CUC Liverpool;
Theatre directed by Silviu Purcarete.

On Thursday 20th of November 2008 at the Novas -Contemporary Urban Centre (CUC), I sat next to my new friends, Amandine and Roland, who are both French and English language speakers, and prepared myself for the performance to start. I knew that there would be English subtitles so, I was very happy that it was ‘meant’ for me to have an evening spoken in Romanian, which Amandine, later mentioned that she, found it as a very beautiful language.

My face felt relaxed and my back soft… I was very comfortable when the red velvet curtain was gently pulled back by a young man opening the view to the stage.

Becket’s story unfolded with a delightful performance, over an hour and fifty minutes.

The minimalist and also, I thought, surrealist staging, by S. Purcarete, suited me perfectly well. I found the sound and the light effects very good and generally all details seemed so well found and effectively establishing the two main characters with ingeniously simple and effective solutions. Through symbolism the visual representation was intelligently matching the story-telling.

A continuous flow and metamorphosis of time integrated the two characters as if they were born on the stage out of time and light. I thought, Gogo (Vladimir) and Didi (Estragon), where forever interesting and refreshing through their style of acting. And all the visual and staging details were of a specific importance and relevance: the clothing in general, the hats, Gogo’s briefcase, Didi’s trousers with huge pockets filled with a lot of crumpled newspapers, carrots and a vegetable peeler; the dead suspended tree skeleton, the symbolic ‘moon’ and ‘sunset’, etc.

Both were acting so naturally, it seemed that the characters were real.

Approaching the last Gong of the performance (as the Gong was present all along), I was feeling in between spaces; Romania at one end, Liverpool at the other and, there I was, suspended spiritually between them.

I didn’t know that Becket could be so funny. But, since I remembered that Romanians always have a great sense of humour, even during the most difficult times in history, it was obvious (to me) that, the acting (directed by Silviu Purcarete, who has worked in Romanian and European theatre for more than 20 years) was going to reflect Becket’s waiting for Godot in its grimness but also, interpreted with the humour, the softness and the soul, that so characterises Romanian theatre and culture.

The brilliant acting of Marian Ralea and Constantin Chiriac, delighted the audience, and for one moment I forgot about Becket; I was there, breathing, in the centre of a surrealist space, created simply from scaffolding (as a ‘stage within a stage’), watching the sunset and moon glow (symbolised by what seemed to appear as ‘diving’ spot lights and a giant electric bulb)…
The silent and persecuted Lucky, was played by young Pali Vecsei and the cruel Pozzo by Cristian Stanca.
The Boy, as messenger of God(ot), was played by the very young Dan Mitrea.
The night’s ‘visions’ sequences, accompanied by live music played by Sena Ducariu, Lacrima Stanescu and Aurel Tancu, reminded me of the Shakespearean scenes from a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Silviu Purcarete’s theatrical work has been seen extensively in the UK in Glasgow, Hammersmith, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Chichester, Bath and London, and this year, Purcarete signed the stage production for Glyndebourne Opera’s production of “Love and other demons” composed by Peter Eotvos.

“Waiting for Godot”, was successfully presented in Liverpool on 20/11/2008 at the Novas, Contemporary Urban Centre (CUC), as part of Romanian Connections, a short tour of Sibiu’s “Radu Stanca” National Theatre in Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture 2008.

The city of Sibiu, as Mr. Constantin Chiriac, Director of ‘Radu Staca’ Theatre mentioned, has a “vibrant multicultural life” where ethnic communities such as Romanian, Hungarian, German, Jewish and Roma are living peacefully. The city has a long history and tradition in theatre, the first purpose built theatre in Sibiu being established in 1788.

Last year, Sibiu was, along with Luxembourg, the European Capital of Culture 2007

More details about Romanian Connections on: www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk/connections

Text by Nicole Bartos, 21 November 2008.