A drama described by critics as "the most significant English language play of the 20th century" is being revived by a Cornish theatre company to mark its 60th anniversary.
Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett is to be this year's summer touring production for Miracle Theatre Company and will travel to outdoor venues across Cornwall, the South West, Wales and London.
Unlike many of its shows over more than 30 years, the company says it will stay one hundred per cent true to the Irish playwright's text. Miracle has made a virtue of squeezing the comedy out of even the darkest of scripts, but director and Miracle founder Bill Scott promised that audiences would be given what Beckett intended.
Bill, who is currently rehearsing his four-man cast at the company's base in Redruth, is no stranger to the existential – some say absurdist – play which had its premiere in 1953.
Having first played The Boy when he was 18 and taking the part of Lucky in a university production, Bill revived the same character for an early Miracle show.
"It was a good show, I think, but in those days your average Miracle audience was about 20, so not many people saw it," he said.
"I have always thought it was a most brilliant play and such fun to do because you scratch away at it and find more and more layers of meaning in what on first reading seems like quite a confusing circular thing. But if you put in the time and effort it is very interesting and full of meaning and there's not a word out of place."
Waiting For Godot was Beckett's third play and follows the conversation of two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, as they wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of the eponymous Godot. Their swirling conversation covers a range of subjects from religion to suicide and exploring the very purpose of existence.
"We are not messing with the script at all, which for us makes the rehearsal period less pressured because we often spend half the time devising," said Bill. "We are staying strictly to the text and even the stage directions – just doing what Beckett wrote and then digging away to find out why each of the characters does what he does."
Steve Jacobs and Angus Brown, actors who have had a long association with Miracle, are playing Estragon and Vladimir, with two more Miracle favourites, Ben Dyson and Ciaran Clarke, as Pozzo and Lucky.
"We have assembled the perfect cast," said Bill. "They are all masters of tragicomedy and will give it the comic treatment that has become one of Miracle's hallmarks."
Bill said he was keen to change people's perception of Beckett, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1969. Describing the novelist and playwright as having the "universal and timeless appeal of Shakespeare", he added: "This play may have the reputation of being 'high-brow' – but only among people who have never seen it. In fact, it is very funny and extremely moving.
"I've seen productions where the actors just say the words and you're left wondering what they're talking about. But in fact it is more than watchable, it is a very, very entertaining play."
Miracle Theatre's Waiting For Godot opens at Fairfield in Redruth on June 12 and continues at Indian Queens Pit (June 13), Mount Pleasant Eco Park at Porthtowan (June 14), Calstock Playing Field (June 15), Pencarrow (June 16), Hartland Abbey, Hartland (June 21), The Minack, Porthcurno (June 24-28), Penlee Park, Penzance (June 29), Flavel, Dartmouth (July 3), Fistral Beach, Newquay (July 10), Trebah (July 11), St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick (July 12), Cathedral Green, Truro (July 13), Bude Castle (July 20), Old Vicarage Gwinear, (July 21), Tresco Abbey Garden (July 25), St Mary's Chaplaincy Gardens (July 26, 28, 29), Heligan (July 31), Tremenheere (Aug 1), St Mawes Castle (Aug 7-8), Tregrehen (Aug 9-10), Perran Round (Aug 11), Gyllngdune Gardens, Princess Pavilion, Falmouth (Aug 13-15), Sterts, Upton Cross (Aug 16), Homeyards Botanical Gardens, Shaldon, Teignmouth (Aug 17), Roskilly's Farm, The Lizard (Aug 20), Cabilla Manor (Aug 21), Penlee Park Penzance (Aug 22), Trelissick (Aug 23-25), Plen-an-Gwary, St Just (Aug 28), Restormel Castle (Aug 29-30), Carn Marth Amphitheatre (Aug 31), Carwinion Gardens Mawnan Smith (Sept 1), St Ives Guildhall (Sept 15). For more details visit miracletheatre.co.uk.