1157 Performance Group / Platform 9 Theatre, Swahili Godot

Review in Issue 11-3 | Autumn 1999

Only perhaps four or five lines in this piece are spoken in Swahili, and anyone expecting so see a new version of Beckett’s play will be surprised, but probably not disappointed, when they experience this strange and powerful collaborative production.

This drama, which charts the journey of a young man whose life becomes unbearable, is certainly infused with a Beckettian sensibility. Its two protagonists balance on a blade of inarticulate isolation and the restraints of social codes. Swahili Godot melds movement, digital soundscapes and a text that is one part Tarantino and two parts Beckett. Although the production doesn’t come up with the goods that the press release promises (the much vaunted ‘stunning projection’ is sadly absent), what remains – perhaps even more so because it is so sparse, desolate and achingly simple – is a strangely moving and funny piece, that absolutely evokes the cruelty and despair at the heart of its narrative.

David McCormick’s perfectly apt choreography and James Dagless’ soundscape stretch the text into a three-dimensional form that becomes truly theatrical, and both performers handle the material, at times of a nature that is difficult to pull off, with great skill. Ultimately though, what makes this production so fascinating is the performance by 1157’s artistic director Matthew Scott, which is marked by an odd and utterly engaging quality and presence quite unlike anything I have seen. This unique style, combined with the company’s accomplished fusion of text, movement and sound, makes 1157 a company to definitely look out for in the future.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-3
p. 21