Thoughts: Waiting For Godot, by Samuel Beckett

Oh man. OH MAN.

I have not been looking forward to this. The thought of having to write my thoughts on this almost stopped me from picking it up in the first place.

But I was running low on funds in the ol’ Kindle account, and I wasn’t going to brave my commute without a book, so I grabbed the nearest treebook – which was Waiting For Godot, because we’d lent it to a friend and not got around to putting it back yet.

So, don’t expect anything.

I try not to read other people’s reviews or look up articles about any of the books I read before I write these things. I feel like it would be dishonest, like it wouldn’t be my thoughts, just a school essay cobbled together from other sources, even if I referenced each one. What would be the point in that? You can look up reviews and articles just as easily as I can. And yeah, part of me wants to see what I think of books and poetry collections and plays as they stand on their own, or if they can’t stand on their absolute own (which they can’t, because I am not a neutral party) then as they stand in my own personal canon.

I kind of regret taking this idiotic high ground now.

What can I say about Waiting For Godot? I hardly read plays, so I can’t situate it in the canon. I’ve never read any other Beckett. I’ve never seen the play performed. I feel singularly unqualified to comment on the meaning in this play script, and probably I’m going to just throw my unqualifications at you and then quietly sneak out through the back instead of give any real thoughts.

If I was cleverer, I’d have written this in the style of Beckett himself.

Well, anyway. I don’t know if I could say I really enjoyed it, as such. Though there was (sometimes great) humour in lots of the stage directions, I want to see it happen. It was weird and baffling as a whole. Lucky and Pozzo seemed to imply that Vladimir and Estragon were the normal people in a world of weirdos, but they were more than a little weird themselves.

What was it about? Was it about the absurdity of not committing, never making a decision, wasting your life? Was it a meta joke about searching for meaning even in the deliberately and explicitly meaningless? Was it Beckett’s interpretation of the meaning of life, i.e., that there isn’t one except what we invent to pass the time? As I said, I haven’t done any research, so I don’t know.

Sometimes I wish I went to see more plays, but it was never really my thing as a kid and I haven’t got into the habit. Your theatre opportunities are very “take it or leave it” in a small Northern town, and you really have to make the effort to go in the first place. It just wasn’t our thing. Things are as they are.

Waiting For Godot surprised me with how funny it was. I always expected modernist stuff to be very impenetrable and knowingly unbearable. Waiting For Godot wasn’t. I was surprised by the physical humour as well as the meta, absurdist humour in the text and running jokes (“Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why?” “We’re waiting for Godot.”). When I read plays I’ll sometimes pick a part to pretend is mine and read it as though I’m acting it, and I was thinking how easy the actor playing Lucky would be – until he was commanded to think.

Along with the humour and the almost-excitement of the aftermaths and near-misses of Vladimir’s and Estragon’s brutish, violent homeless lives, I was struck by the depth of feeling behind Vladimir’s second meeting with the boy, and how he almost loses it. That and Act 2, when the two show up at the exact same place as they were the day before and with all the props in the same place as they were left at the end of Act 1. Or is it the day after? Or is it the same place? Or are those the same hats and boots? It’s not… entirely… certain. And if it’s all different, then that throws all Act 1 into murky uncertainty as well. The same with the boy – is he the same boy? Is this just one day played out over and over again and every morning they half-forget what came before? Vladimir’s violent feelings almost felt to me like that’s what was happening. That he remembered something he didn’t usually remember, or rather that something remained that didn’t usually.

But as we all know, I like my spec fic, and I might be projecting.

Maybe it’s all about projecting. Maybe we take out of Waiting For Godot what we put in. I know that I wanted them to make a decision – to either get on with their lives or seek Godot out themselves and sort the thing out. And I know that this indecision-masking passivity is something I struggle with myself, which might explain why I was so quick to see it.

One day I’d like to see the play, though. I’ll keep an eye out for it, though of course in Germany English-language theatre is even slimmer pickings than at home.

D: Let’s finish the post now.
D: Yes, let’s.
She does not move.

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