REVIEW: Godot Has Come Celebrates Public Spirit and Pratfalls
Colin Williams reviews Theatre Office Natori’s absurdist homage to Samuel Beckett Godot Has Come, presented for one night only in Toronto by Why Not Theatre in association with fu-GEN Theatre Company:
As I search for a seat for Why Not Theatre’s presentation of Godot Has Come, there is strong sense of celebration amidst the audience. People giddily chat among themselves about what is to unfold, but amongst these voices there is something particular that stands out to me: the majority of people are speaking languages other than English. I can decipher traces of English, Spanish, Japanese, and more, and this symphony of voices creates an exciting atmosphere indicative of the diversity of the Toronto theatre scene. The music kicks in and the lights fade, signaling the beginning of this anticipated production. Godot Has Come all the way from Japan to meet with us tonight; has his journey been worth the wait?
Sometimes the longest waits can be the most meaningful, and Godot’s arrival truly warrants the celebration that precedes it.
While Mashumi Sakurai and Yumi Matsumoto’s lighting design effectively evokes the bleak nature of Godot’s world, it is Mitsuru Ishi’s set design that captures the plays spirit. The minimalist set of a rustic bus station provides a compelling juxtaposition to the slapstick comedy, which accentuates the absurdist flavors of Beckett’s original work. The deep whites of the dust covered set stand out beautifully from the dark background, and the actors use it to great effect as they dance and frolic around the bus stop, providing some exquisitely funny moments. Performances from the cast are uniformly strong. Each character is given their moment to shine on stage with distinct comedic moments, but Yuga Yoshino’s performance as Godot is a knock out. Yoshino’s expressive faces and sharp comedic timing make Godot’s bewilderment at Vladimir and Estragon’s refusal to accept that he is right in front of them exceptionally funny. It is a joy to witness Godot attempt to convince others that he has indeed finally arrived, and Yoshino’s charm would have you wish that Godot arrived in the original text as well.
While the production is performed in Japanese with English subtitles, the precise synchronization of the translation and on stage dialogue makes following the action effortless. I am able to keep up with the story easily, and the expert pacing of the performances and actors’ awareness of the subtitles detract little attention away from the humour.
With the play’s use of decidedly absurdist comedy, resistance to Godot’s arrival, and the emphasis placed on collaboration and community, Godot Has Come laughingly explores the notion of existing in the present moment. In this one-night-only event, Why Not Theatre has presented a show that has brought different groups of people together in order to relish in the wonderment of theatre, and of laughter. Godot Has Come showcases the importance of coming together to celebrate works from across the world, and how Toronto can champion diversity and alternate voices from both within and outside of its own theatre scene. While Godot Has Come and gone, I shall sit here and eagerly await his return.
Colin Williams is an actor from Cambridge Ontario. He is currently studying Dramatic Arts at Brock University in St. Catharines. Although his focus of study is in acting and directing, he is interested in working within all aspects of theatre.