In 1954 Samuel Beckett released "Waiting For Godot" on French theatregoers, the reaction was mixed, some people believed it to be a great work, others that it was the most boring play on earth. Why did Godot split public and critical opinion so much? In this essay I will attempt to answer the above question I will also study some of the Dramatic effects the play achieved with it's unusual style. .
"Waiting For Godot" is one of the first plays to be considered "Theatre of the Absurd". This is due to its strange and new conventions; the play has no beginning, middle or end, at least not in the traditional sense. There is the play's set, essentially barren, with the exception of a virtually leafless tree in the background. The set never changes; there is very little time for it to change, as there are only two acts, both almost identical in structure. Kenneth Tynan wrote "It's basically a means of spending two hours in the dark without being bored" in his review of the play. We must also consider the audience that the play was written and performed for. Theatre was a popular past time for the middle and upper classes, perhaps it is not so strange that a story about clown-like tramps that contemplate suicide was not quite what they were expecting or used to. Working class people may have been more likely to relate to the characters semi-pointless existence, but to an audience so used to seeing the working class portrayed on the stage as light-hearted comic relief it was an unwelcome change.
However I think that the play was perhaps disliked in some sectors and loved in others because of its existentialist influences. Existentialism is a philosophical movement that stresses individual existence. Human beings are totally free and responsible for their own acts. Another main idea of existentialism is the limitation of reason and the irreducibility of experience to any system. Man is not a detached observer of the world; rather, he "exists" in a special sense - he is "in the world.