There is now no doubt that not only is Waiting for Godot the outstanding play of the 20th century, but it is also Samuel Beckett's masterpiece. Yet it is both a popular text to be studied at school and an enigma. The scene is a country road. There is a solitary tree. It is evening. Two tramp-like figures, Vladimir and Estragon, exchange words. Pull off boots. Munch a root vegetable. Two other curious characters enter. And a boy. Time passes. It is all strange yet familiar. Waiting for Godot casts its spell as powerfully in this audiobook recording as it does on stage.
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Ah, what a delightfully bleak, humorously horrible, grotesquely sublime, slapstickishly nihilistic, transcendently claustrophobic, bracingly despairing, and entertainingly frustrating play Waiting for Godot is! It's perfect.
And I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this audiobook version. The British actors, Sean Barrett, David Burke, Terence Rigby, and Nigel Anthony, are excellent, bringing Beckett's text and characters alive with wit, heart, and perfect timing. The two friends Estragon and Vladimir are an appealing pair of morosely and stubbornly heroic fools: ever waiting in the wasteland for the never appearing Godot, ever complaining about and attempting to understand their situation, never mustering the courage to escape it, repeatedly forgetting their past, playing off each other's words like suicidal comedians, sometimes arguing, and often treating each other with moving affection. There is something strangely comforting about their never-ending failures. As if an adult Charlie Brown were living with Eeyore instead of Snoopy. Pozzo and Lucky, the foil-pair of Estragon and Vladimir, are morbidly fascinating in their abusive master-slave relationship.
Here are a few of the many great moments in the audiobook: when Lucky "thinks," when Estragon and Vladimir pass their hats and Lucky's back and forth between them, when the boy angel delivers his messages (that Godot will surely come tomorrow!), when Estragon and Vladimir "abuse" each other and then make up, when Estragon and Vladimir debate helping Pozzo up, and when Pozzo makes his woeful speech, "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more."
Waiting for Godot (like any play), of course, is a visual work of art best experienced performed live on stage. However, if you are unable to see it like that, listening to this audiobook would be the next best thing, and a wonderful experience in itself.