ED FRINGE: Godot is a Woman – Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Skylar Mabry

Writer: Silent Faces Theatre: Cordelia Stevenson, Jack Wakely, & Josie Underwood

Director: Laura Killeen

Waiting for Godot is one of the most famous plays in all the world, surely it is one of the most widely and diversely produced plays as well. Surprisingly, that is not the case. Samuel Beckett, during his life, was adamant that the words of his plays remain unchanged, including all stage directions and character descriptions. His estate, more than 30 years after his death, continues to unflinchingly enforce this.

Silent Faces Theatre are a female and non-binary led theatre company who employ physical theatre, clown, and new writing to tell compelling stories. Previous works include a clown show about depression and a comedy about corporate responsibility. They have partnered with Camden People’s Theatre, New Diorama, and Pleasance to bring Godot is a Woman to Edinburgh this year.

The show begins with three people: Cordelia Stevenson, Jack Wakely, and Josie Underwood, who are all in various stages of undress and hoping to speak to someone from the Beckett estate. As they wait in a hopeless phone queue, all three complete their costumes, and become dressed exactly like Vladimir and Estragon. They reach the first in the queue, and no one can take their call. Forced to leave an awkward and unprepared message, they call back and find themselves at position 8, 952, and the real waiting begins.

It is a well-crafted, well-written, well-researched, and well-executed piece. Featuring pastiche dialogue, a lengthy and absurdly funny court case, real information, and some excellently choreographed dance numbers, this show becomes the modern-day, inclusive Waiting for Godot which we should all appreciate. But the ever-present question is will they ever be granted permission to perform the play they want?

It is difficult to choreograph precise routines that showcase and suit the performers individually in their performance. Silent Faces have achieved that skill. They perform with such fervour and specificity that their intended narratives and emotions are clear, and intimately shared with the audience. Towards the end, the movement takes on a cathartic quality for the trio, which is spread and then wholly felt by the viewer.

A large portion of the action is centred around a fictional court case. Dramatized with singing, dancing, and excellent arguments, each person takes on the roles of judge, witness(es), defence, and prosecution. Hilarious characters and ludicrous situations encourage even the toughest witness to change their mind in favour of allowing for more freedom in reproductions of this famous play. Surely, in all the years since Beckett passed away, society has seen immense changes and improvements to our views on gender. If he’d been alive for that time, wouldn’t he have seen them too?

Stevenson, Wakely, and Underwood are unapologetically themselves on this stage: passionate, engaging, intelligent performers. Their ability to switch seamlessly between themselves and other characters as needed in addition to the writing, effortlessly educational and gripping, are both testament to the skill of these creatives.

Although the ending of Waiting for Godot leaves Vladimir and Estragon still stranded, Godot is a Woman allows the characters to leave, to move on. This is a striking difference, that speaks to our ability as humans to evolve. We can change, and move on, and improve. It seems Silent Faces are encouraging us to do so.

Godot is a Woman is an unmissable addition to this year’s Fringe festival. Through this, and their previous work, Silent Faces have proved themselves to be top-tier makers, storytellers, and champions of diversifying the theatrical pool. The big question now is: what will they do next?

Runs at Pleasance Dome – Queen Dome until 28 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Finely-tuned Comedy

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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