Nothing Happens (Twice) – Jacksons Lane Theatre

Read the original article by Gonzalo Sentana.

12 March 2023

Two Flamingos dance and invite you to visit Andalusia, and then they do it again, and then again. And their suffering and their meaninglessness become apparent as they try to find reasons to keep doing what they are doing.

In this piece, that one could argue is a study on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the actors Mercè Ribot and Patricia Rodríguez take us in an irreverent trip through stages in the present and towards the present. Playfully delving into the process of trying to act and survive as performing artists in a foreign land, their personal lives become a moving and intense experience amid laughter and music.

The audience will see the appearance of several pairs of characters through the play, and the actors will impersonate themselves, and break the fourth wall more than once. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the piece has a very strong sense of truth, making use of real situations to reach the public through very personal experiences shared by the two actors. The connection and understanding between them is so strong that the rhythm, complicity and looks of every single moment along the way reach into a very strong sense of sympathy and compassion.

Perhaps this a story about two actresses trying to act, and waiting for the right moment, but doing things while they wait, because waiting is doing. And the struggles, and the nonsensical conditions set to their desire of performing a text, everything amounts to an absurdity of epic levels. But it’s undoubtedly also a reflection on work and its repetition and oppression. And, it’s about having fun. And it’s about insulting each other and then praising each other, both in English and Spanish. And then, it’s also a little bit about suicide, although maybe that was just a game.

In the clever moment of the interval, when there is wine pouring and sharing, and the actors expose their fragility with humour, allowing the audience to test them, things keep taking more and more turns.  It’s also, in its own way, a clever political statement on art and copyright. Coming back from such an interval and seeing how the things that seemed unreasonable jokes and silly games start to grow in depth, was a rewarding and thought-provoking moment.

All the fragments of this story, from the thoughtful direction of Ursula Martínez, the Dramaturgy by Adam Brace, the Design by Verity Quinn, the amazing lights by Simon Bond, and the exhilarating Music and Sound Design by John Biddle, make for a precious encounter with theatre, where the concept of here and now takes a new meaning. The actors give more and more of themselves as the time goes by, and the idea of filling up the time, and going through things by force of habit is not shown but lived.

Being, as it is, a very unique experience shared by these actors with the audience, it is beautiful to see the reflections of what it meant to be female Spanish actors in an English-speaking country for these performers, and the struggles they faced because of their accent. It’s even more interesting to see how they acknowledge this heritage in the last part of the performance, as one of the ways to escape the constraints that are being placed on them. And they play with a carrot-phone, and that’s something to see.

Full of mind-twisting absurdity and hilarious fragility, this work of art invites a reflection on the work of theatre and its intricacies, while keeping us laughing through the whole time.

Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana

Reviewed: 11th of March 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

More Reviews

  • ★★★★☆ Taking its title from a review of Samuel Beckett’s 1953 existential classic Waiting for Godot, this comedy from Little Soldier Productions melds slapstick humour with a wry sense of the company’s career frustrations.

  • ★★★★☆ A meta-theatrical response to Waiting for Godot, Nothing Happens (Twice) is so witty and honest that for me it surpasses the original entirely and will become the yardstick by which I measure Beckett.