PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
OUP PNR 246 Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Alex Wong embarks on Ausonius's Moselle Christine Blackwell recalls Jonas Mekas Lives of Graves, Trilling and Curnow visited New poems by Lisa Kelly and Jodie Hollander Andy Croft on the 'poetry industry'

This article is taken from PN Review 120, Volume 24 Number 4, March - April 1998.

Lear, Godot, Waste & Other Plays T.J.G. Harris

'Shakespeare released history, Beckett tried to stop it.' These words of Edward Bond's, from his Commentary on the War Plays, came to me after seeing in London last summer two different productions of King Lear and a production of Waiting for Godot, the more especially since the programme for one of the Lears, Peter Hall's at The Old Vic, was littered with quotations from Beckett's play, and the production itself alluded in various ways to the Waiting for Godot that was being performed in repertory at the same theatre.

It was Jan Kott's essay, 'King Lear, or Endgame', in his grandly provocative Shakespeare Our Contemporary that started the linking of Lear with the Theatre of the Absurd, and in particular with the plays of Samuel Beckett. This essay, as well as discussions with Kott, lay behind Peter Brook's famous production of Lear, with Paul Scofield as the King, in 1962. After seeing these productions of 1997, I was forced to feel that Bond's dour strictures on the Theatre of the Absurd had more of the truth - at least in respect of the differences between Shakespeare and the playwrights of the Absurd - than Kott's erudite and brilliant persuasiveness.

'The sun shone, having no alternative,' runs the first sentence of Beckett's early novel Murphy, 'on the nothing new.' On two tramps and a tree. On two tramps and a tree. On two tramps and a tree... The production of Waiting for Godot at the Old ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image