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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Godot is a Woman

Silent Faces

Genre: Clown, Feminist Theatre, New Writing, Physical Theatre

Venue: The Pleasance


Low Down

In 1953 a man wrote a play about waiting. In 1988 he sued five women for trying to perform it. 

Waiting for Godot is one of the most performed plays in the world, but not by women, because Beckett specified the parts of Vladimir and Estragon must be played by men. Silent Faces play a waiting game as they fool around and question this diktat.


A country road, a tree – the stage is set. But wait, it’s not for the play we know. There are three people on stage – and they’re not men.

When Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot, he specified that the parts should be played by men and was insistent on this, going as far as to sue a Dutch company who tried to put on an all women production in 1988. The Beckett estate has continued to enforce this instruction after Beckett’s death in 1989.

Bowler hatted and dusty suited, just like the familiar Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), from so many productions of Waiting for Godot, Silent Faces’ gender diverse cast is waiting. Waiting for an answer. They’re on hold on the phone to the Beckett estate asking for permission to perform Waiting for Godot.  

Cara Withers, along with Josie Underwood and Jack Wakely, who co-wrote the show with Cordelia Stevenson, give brilliant clowning performances, or physical political fooling as Silent Faces very aptly call it. From outlining the play’s history of gender contention and challenge to a hysterical lecture on the prostate from Doctors Whimple and Whomple to a rumbustious trial of the Beckett estate, Silent Faces offer us a rollicking series of laughter filled sketches and fun filled dance routines. Coincidentally, (or maybe not, suggest Silent Faces), in 1989 Beckett died and Madonna released Like a Prayer, and from this slight premise the cast launches into a full frontal assault on masculinity and misogyny, highlighting the #metoo movement and the beginning of a shift in gender in theatre. 

The direction and choreography is perfectly pitched and full of poise, holding together its collection of sketches and building it in a whole. 

As the play moves towards its close, the players divest themselves of their suits and strip down to their underwear, getting rid of the men on their backs and breaking free to see what a theatre devised by women might look like. This last dance routine is longer and less structured and it’s not clear quite what it’s trying to say.

But this is clowning at its best – fooling that has wisdom and something to say at its heart.