Saturday, 3 October 2015

Godot

Fantasy Bob is pretty sure that he was the only one in the audience enjoying Waiting for Godot at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre this week who took a cricketing interest in the show.

FB urges all cricketers to see this show - it is Test Match Quality.  For this is the greatest work of the only cricketer with a mention in Wisden to have gained the Nobel prize for literature.

Samuel Beckett was an opening left hand batsman and left arm medium pace bowler for Dublin University (which played first class fixtures from 1895 to 1926). He played twice against Northamptonshire. His performances were indifferent, with a top score of 18.

Critics have been reluctant to acknowledge the cricketing insights within this great play. There have been interpretations existential, Freudian, Jungian, Marxian, Martian, mystical, religious, JudeoChristian, atheistic, pantheistic, absurdist and many more. But never cricketing.

FB is stunned at this oversight. He admits that as a cricketer Godot himself is not clearly drawn. The audience is left in ignorance of his bowling action. He may not be a bowler at all - he may be a batsman. We must wait for him to find out.
Even the most cursory reading of the text should convince the reader that it is replete with references to cricketing situations. After all, each Act closes with the lines:

- Well, shall we go?
- Yes, let's go.


And the stage direction, they do not move.

Only a cricketer could have written this - it is an acute depiction of the existential difficulty of deciding whether a quick single is on. Well worth the Nobel Prize in itself.

But there is more, much more, of cricketing significance in all the play's most famous lines.

Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It's awful

The frustration of the fielding side unable to break a long and slow opening partnership

- There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.

The bowler called for his umpteenth no-ball who makes a pantomime of tying and retying his laces.

- Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better.

The anxieties of players knowing that the selection committee may be looking carefully at their run of low scores. Will their big car and large boot be enough to gain them selection for the coming away fixture?

- We always find something to give us the impression we exist?
- Yes, yes, we're magicians.


The bowler who miraculously has landed his doosra on the spot for the first, and possibly only, time.

- What do they say?
- They talk about their lives.
- To have lived is not enough for them.

- They have to talk about it.

The chat in the bar after the match may not live up to expectations - particularly when the man who has just scored his first half century after many years of trying tells yet again of how his top edge through the slips was in fact carefully steered by his deft opening of he face of the bat.

- Well? What do we do?
- Let's do nothing it's safer.
- Let's wait and see what he says.
- Who?
- Godot.
- Good idea.
- Let's wait till we know exactly how we stand.


The players wait anxiously for the skipper to return from the toss. (We may not be able to identify Godot as a batter or bowler but we can infer that he is the skipper).

- That passed the time.
- It would have passed in any case.
- Yes, but not so rapidly.


The lower league cricketer's appreciation of his Saturday afternoon's efforts.

- Let's go.
- We can't.
- Why not?
- We're waiting for Godot.


The skipper is late for the meet for the away match again.

FB rests his case.

There's a famous story of Beckett watching a match at Lord's on a gorgeous summer afternoon, with a great batsman completing a classic century. A friend turned to him and said, "It's things like this that make one glad to be alive, eh Sam?" Beckett pondered this for some time, then replied, "I'm not sure I'd go that far..."

Beckett (second from left) with his school cricket team in 1920. 


2 comments:

  1. FB seems to suggest that the world of lower league cricket which he inhabits resembles the theatre of the absurd. This may or may not be true: what would Beckett make of the Corridor of Uncertainty I wonder? Or the striker's call of Wait!.........did Godot field the ball cleanly or was there a single there after all? Having never seen Waiting for Godot, I cannot hazard a guess. My only experience of Beckett was Endgame, in which, as far as I remember, the main characters resided in dustbins for the entire duration of the play. This may be a metaphor for the state of cricket in Scotland but hopefully not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the corridor of uncertainty.
      Are you sure?
      I don't know.

      Delete