WHEN SLAPSTICK MEANT SERIOUSNESS

Chetana Nagavajara

 

Went to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” yesterday, staged by the Suan Sunantha University Drama Department. Certainly the most enjoyable performance of the play I had ever seen. I had seen the play several times in English and in German and often found it to be philosophically pretentious. I never realized that it could ever be funny, but funny it was. Naturally the Director clad it with Thai-style humour, while the philosophical message was not lost. The attempt to weave in Buddhist thinking did not quite work and gave the impression of being an alien element. The acting was distinghuished.
All in all, a lot of serious thinking had gone into this adaptation. Becket might not have recognized it as being HIS play. So what? Compared to those arbitrary distortions of the classics by German theatre directors of today, the Suan Sunatha production may have erred on the side of trying to do honour to the original by a Thai director who might be thinking too much. In spite of frequent slapsticks, this was a deeply serious treatment of Beckett. I would urge the director to have a go at “Endgame” next time. That will be a real challenge.
The “Lean Theatre” (Lakhon Phom) might be in the process of comimg of age. I do rejoice on behalf of these young pioneers.

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