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Camden Fringe: An Evening Of The Absurd: Are We Still Waiting for Godot?, Camden People’s Theatre

Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
by Closing the Gap Theatre Company
Directed by Joe Allan
★★★

Pros: The piece was well-acted and certainly unique.

Cons: The narrative was, at best, difficult to follow.

Our verdict: It’s certainly a unique performance. Would be good for people who like unusual theatre that asks the audience to create their own conclusions.

Courtesy of Closing The Gap Theatre

An Evening Of The Absurd: Are We Still Waiting for Godot? certainly is what it says on the tin – absurd. The performance takes place at the Camden People’s Theatre, an easy to find, helpfully staffed, intimate venue. The show itself is comprised of two scenes, which are at times confusing, at times curiosity-inspiring and even at times very humorous (there’s something rather funny but then sad regarding oats). Unfortunately, however the performance was hampered by plots that weren’t clear cut or particularly easy to follow.

The cast start the play in and amongst the audience in a rather enjoyable interactive opening which nicely gives a bit of background for two of the characters. We are then led into the theatre, where the evening begins at the outbreak of World War II with a short play centring around repetition. A family reacting to the news of war are stopped, repositioned and restarted to the soundtrack of AJ MacGillivary, as a veteran, reciting a child’s rhyme over and over (but being unable to finish it). The second play had some quick set changes (done in front of the audience) that took us forward in time to a modern day awkward dinner party – one that is rife with misunderstanding. The scenes both use nearly identical props: mainly a table and chairs, although there were many items hanging in the back right corner which did not seem to fit in completely to either scene.

The relationship of the characters to one another is difficult to follow, perhaps intentionally so. There were none the less some memorable performances, such as Briony Wyatt’s Councillor (really a counsellor), who is an interesting catalyst for the two main stories which unfold. Her character seems possessive and more harmful than good in one instance, yet genuine and compassionate in the other. Tiana Khan’s Present Controller is also well acted, and you get the idea you’ve come across her character either in your own office (and/or every single time the Apprentice rolls across our television screens). The dinner scene is a modern revival of the time-filling conversation while waiting (in this case, for the evening to end) that is originally presented in the play’s namesake – Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It’s an appropriate homage to Godot that the narrative doesn’t reach a clear conclusion, but I felt that I didn’t take much away with me other than a sense of confusion.

Afterwards, it was unclear that the performance had ended. The audience stayed seated for a good five minutes after the applause and bows, afraid to leave for fear of missing the rest of the performance. After a chat with helpful strangers (as well as the friendly bar staff) it was confirmed that it was, in fact, over. In conclusion, if you like your theatre a bit odd and open to your own interpretation, this is for you, but do go as a group. I imagine attending with others will help you discuss your conclusions, and interpret what you’ve seen.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below! 

An Evening Of The Absurd: Are We All Still Waiting For Godot? runs at Camden People’s Theatre until 7th August 2013.
Box Office: 020 7419 4841 or book online at http://www.cptheatre.co.uk/event_details.php?sectionid=theatre&eventid=682 

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