Druid: Waiting for Godot

Vladimir/ Marty Rea with Estragon/ Aaron Monaghan Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan

STOP all the clocks. Druid Theatre returns to Limerick March 7 to 10 with Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’. The tight ensemble of Aaron Monaghan, Marty Rea, Garrett Lombard and Rory Nolan is directed by Tony-winning Garry Hynes for a show that began as a fortnight’s gig for Galway Arts Festival 2016. Their ‘Godot’ remains in demand, drawing crowds, and coos from UK and Ireland critics.

Back then, actors who had made this Beckett glorious in the 21st century, Barry McGovern, Alan Stanford and Stephen Brennan shipped out west to take a look. Such was their encouragement and the general reaction in the “small, intimate space” of Druid’s own Mick Lally Theatre that soon, Druid was on the road, taking its caravan to outlying islands and country roads.

It moved across the Atlantic in Summer, where the actors found themselves shifting tack to engage what came across as “a conservative audience”.

The cast are always excited about it, “the simplicity and profundity” of its economic fragments and the play-off between pairs under a silvery moon.

Aaron Monaghan gave Limerick Post an eye-in to their production from Princeton, New Jersey. It’s where he and Garrett Lombard are doing ‘Stones in their Pocket’: “We are seven weeks in the States,” he says reflectively, anticipating a short rehearsal time back home for this next iteration of ‘Godot’. “And every time we are overseas we are flying the Irish flag, pulling on the green jersey.”

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Travel to unexpected parts is par with Druid’s avowed pursuit of audiences,  provincial lovers of theatre who would never get to The Pale’s hot grid of professional productions. The show went on to festivals such as South Carolina’s cross-genre Spoleto, a right juggernaut. ‘Godot’ starts up again for March 2018. Critical word is that it is rich in tragicomedic appeal and beautifully rounded.

Aaron Monaghan is a Cavan man who trained in acting in a tough three years at Trinity. He fell into the game in a haphazard way and has worked consistently since 2002 – which means a lot of life spent on road.

You may know Monaghan’s blunt, handsome features from television’s ‘Love/ Hate’, ‘Vikings’, even ‘The Tudors’. He has been a frequent flyer here with DruidMurphy’s ‘Conversations on a Homecoming’; ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’; ‘The Colleen Bawn’ and the mighty Henriad of DruidShakespeare. He is often the man with a job to do, driving the plot forward doggedly.

Tom Murphy is his all-time great and the actors in ‘Waiting for Godot’ bonded fiercely doing Murphy’s ‘Famine’ donkey’s years back. From that critical mass, the Druid Ensemble emerged, embracing Dearbhaile Crotty, Aishling O’Sullivan, Marie Mullen and more.

What is this head-scratcher ‘Godot’ about? “Godot is about everything. I think it is about love, about companionship, what it means to be alive.

“I think it’s about what it means to be human, to live, to be part of a couple whether it is friendship or a relationship, living an existence”. And the tenacity it takes to go on.

“It is quite a physical show. Beckett had written all these Marx Brothers routines in, Laurel and Hardy broadsides and we have kept to all of this. There’s quite a vaudevillian feel to it”.

The shuffle between Vladimir/ Marty Rea and a seemingly confused Estragon/ Monaghan is counterpoint to the characters Lucky/ Lombard and Pozzo/ Nolan who wander irregularly on that placeless, timeless, featureless landscape. There’s a kindness to it all.

Book  on www.limetreetheatre.ie, Wednesday March 7 to Saturday 10, 8pm shows.