Waiting for Godot
La Scala, in Paris
The blind box of the theater replaced the milky setting of the summer sky which covered the ancient Odéon de Fourvière during the premiere of Waiting for Godot, in a staging by Alain Françon. The show, one of the sensations of the Lyon festival, continues its route on the boards, with a long stopover at La Scala, until April. Two shadows slide on the plateau plunged into darkness, from which emerges the emaciated silhouette of a dying tree. A few meters away, a solitary rock and, in the back, the outline of an ashen horizon. Two ragged men, wearing faded melons, are going around in circles waiting for a certain Godot. For 1 hour 40 minutes, the public watches with Vladimir and Estragon the famous man who, as we know, will not point the tip of his nose.
Waiting for Godot is a pinnacle of absurdity that transforms, as the world sinks into its wildest drifts, into a mirror of increasingly disturbing clarity. Seventy years just after its creation, Samuel Beckett’s play navigates between a confusion of landmarks and a feeling of devastation, terribly familiar to today’s audience. The spectacle of Lucky, a poor wretch reduced to slavery by Pozzo, also distills its disconcerting echoes, accentuated by the reversal of Vladimir and Estragon who, after a compassionate reflex, will finally take the side of the strongest.
However, we laugh and without restraint. With desperation, sometimes cruelty, but also lulled by a powerful background of tenderness for the characters and, by extension, for ourselves. Alain Françon finely orchestrates this subtle weaving in a staging with effective discretion entirely in the service of Beckett’s play. To the metronomic precision of the stage directions provided by the author himself throughout the text is added that of a direction of actors of a dazzling rigor.
Everything is told as much by words as by bodies. The steps are charged with a thousand stories and the silhouettes draw poetic curves in the almost empty space. Françon’s work is a work of fine embroidery of which each actor constitutes an essential thread. The duo formed by André Marcon (Estragon) and Gilles Privat (Vladimir) delights the public from beginning to end. The first carries an earthy roundness while the second, a tall lunar pole, constantly seems to be balancing on an invisible thread.
Like an old couple, “Gogo” and “Didi”, as they call themselves, no longer know how many years they have been walking together, they often get annoyed but know that they are there for each other. other. Impossible to resist their exchanges, their gestures, the intonations of André Marcon evoking the “Vaucluse” or the glances towards the public of Gilles Privat buttoning up with this sentence “no letting go in the little things”.
The second tandem is just as delightful with a Guillaume Lévêque, terrifying with haughtiness and ambiguity in Pozzo and breathtaking Éric Berger in the role of the miserable Lucky. Bowed legs, arched back, uninterrupted tremors, he overwhelms with his submissive fragility and carries everyone away in the tirade of thought, launched in a single hair-raising breath. Even the young Antoine Heuillet is the perfect messenger for Godot.
All of them, through their words, their address to the audience, their skilfully mastered silences, deploy the intrinsic strength of Samuel Beckett’s text. Even the rare liberties taken by Alain Françon turn out to be as delicate as they are eloquent, like the road along which the characters are supposed to stand, absent from the decor designed by Jacques Gabel.
“I don’t know more about this play than someone who manages to read it carefully (…), I don’t know more about these characters than what they say, what they do and what happens to them, wrote Samuel Beckett to Michel Polac in 1952. I don’t know who Godot is. I don’t even know, especially not, if it exists. So the rest is up to the viewer. Everyone, in his heart of hearts, will recognize “his” Godot, whatever his contours in the secret of souls tossed about by the torments of the world.