Things to do

Waiting for Godot with Miracle Theatre at the Minack

Azure seas at Porthcurno


I've visited the Minack before, but not to experience it as a stage - a unique theatrical setting carved into cliff, to enjoy performances in front of an azure sea. It might take an age to get there, so much so you think you must've missed a turning somehow, somewhere. But it is more than worth it.

When you arrive, you can't quite believe the story of how the Minack came to be, images of a petite Rowena Cade hauling boulders up from the beach seem too far fetched. But her efforts have created an astounding attraction that pulls people down the tiny Cornish roads from far and wide.

Behind the stage

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is a fair weather venue, given its exposure and grass seats, but no. On this particular evening, the last thursday in June, the evening light was long, the sky overcast with Cornish mizzle causing curly locks as the sea fog formed on the horizon. A perfect backdrop really for a drama to unfold.

Waiting for GodotDressing room with a viewThe stage

The stage was simple, a round platform bare except for a mound and the exclamation mark of a solitary tree stripped of its finery. How can a whole two hour play be based in one such simple setting? Well, that was to be the first of many questions...

It could be considered a disadvantage to not know of a play before watching it, but I can't decide whether or not it works in your favour in the case of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. It was a brave choice from Miracle Theatre, but if anyone could pull it off, it was them. The acting was first rate. The play was obscure. But then that is kind of the point.

Estragon (Gogo) played by Steve Jacobs(Vladimir (Didi) played by Angus Brown

From the outset, the punctuated lines ring out and bounce around the arena, echoing off the stone and out to sea. The effect was enough to enthrall even the gaggle of school children in attendance, and whilst they may not have fully understood the deliberations of Gogo and Didi, the performance kept them entertained. The flamboyant arrival of Pozzo and his strange creature 'Lucky' brought another dimension of peculiarities, almost as if they were a play within a play.

 

Pozzo played by Ben DysonLucky played by Ciaran Clarke

By halftime, the sky was a thunderous blue and the fog had rolled in, blurring the backdrop into an evocative reflection of the stage lights. But with the steely determination of Rowena herself, the players played on.

The sky turned a magnificent blue

You can't really give much away about the story of this play, it's very much open to interpretation. In its most basic form, it's about two tramps killing time under a tree. And nothing ever quite happening. There are some obvious themes of life, death, repetition and what it all means, with some underlying tones that are effective to your own perceptions. Funnily enough, it all ends as it starts, Waiting for Godot.

Whatever you come away thinking Beckett was portraying, the very least he has managed is to provoke debate - our car journey home was fraught with personal interpretations and philosophical arguments that were most enjoyable.

As for the point of it all? Personally, I think it was all in his head.


 

Catch Miracle Theatre's portrayal of 'Waiting for Godot' at lots of magical outdoor arenas throughout the West Country this summer, www.miracletheatre.co.uk. And don't forget, at a dozen specially selected venues, you have the chance for a 'pew with a view'! That's right, the Classic Couch is back on tour...

If you missed the chance to see the performance at The Minack Theatre, have wander down that way anyway and learn about its history - you might be lucky enough to spot the seals and basking sharks that frequent the area.

The Minack Theatre

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