Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

30/03/2023 - 06/04/2023

Lawson Field Theatre, Gisborne

08/11/2023 - 08/11/2023

Globe Theatre, 312 Main St, Palmerston North

10/11/2023 - 11/11/2023

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

28/11/2023 - 02/12/2023

Production Details

Written by Dave Hanson
Directed by Michael Hurst

Produced by: Boyd and Brodie Productions

Two hapless understudies wait to go on in a production of ‘Waiting for Godot’, but will their time ever come?

Whilst waiting, they occupy their time backstage, trying to understand art, life, theatre and their precarious existence within it. This hilariously witty comedy ponders Beckett, showbiz and just what on earth it’s all about. Turns out, the only people who truly understand Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, are the understudies.

★★★★★ “Delectable” The New York Times

★★★★★ “gleefully absurd and self-aware “- Critics pick – Time out New York

★★★★★ “An absolute Blinder” My Theatre Mates

★★★★ “Laugh out loud. Sharp script. Killer lines” Everything Theatre

★★★★ “Big laughs guaranteed!” Please Mind The Blog

“absurdist silliness, wit, and abundant charm”  The Stage

“…smart, speedy and superbly silly.”  Minneapolis Post:

“A back-stage comedic flight-of-fancy” Theatre World

Audience warnings
Contains mild swearing. This show is suitable for ages 11+.

Q Loft, Queen St, Auckland Central  
Thu 30 March – Thu 6 April 2023
$28 – $35 (Service Fee may apply)
Book Now


National Tour 2023 

Hamilton: 1 & 2 November: The Meteor Theatre
Tauranga: 7 November: Baycourt X Space
Gisborne: 8 November: Lawson Field Theatre
Hastings: 9 November: Toitoi – Hawkes Bay Arts Centre
Palmerston North: 10 & 11 November: Globe Theatre
Auckland: 14 – 18 November: Q Theatre
New Plymouth: 22 & 23 November: 4th Wall Theatre
Taupo: 24 November: Centre Stage Theatre
Waihi: 25 November: Waihi Drama Society
Wellington: 28 November – 2 December: Hannah Playhouse
Whanganui: 3 December: Whanganui Repertory Theatre 

Ester – Callum Brodie
Val – George Maunsell
Laura – Acushla-Tara Kupe
– Iana Grace (on tour)

Theatre ,

1 hr 15 min no interval

The art of Waiting for Godot

Review by Sarah Catherall 30th Nov 2023

Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, is brilliant for being a play in which nothing much happens. This contemporary play, written by American playwright Dave Hanson, adds a new twist to the absurdity of the original work and has been described as ‘a play about boredom that’s anything but boring’.

Hannah Playhouse, with its brooding, brutalist interior, feels like the perfect setting for Waiting for Waiting for Godot. We meet the understudy, Ester (brilliantly played by actor Callum Brodie), backstage as he does his warm-up vocal and physical exercises in case he might go on to the stage. “Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry …’’ he quips. Puckering his lips and opening his mouth, he is hilarious to watch. [More]


Make a comment

Profoundly entertaining. Don’t wait, book now.

Review by John Smythe 29th Nov 2023

In my review of the 2019 Circa production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot , I wrote: “Vladimir and Estragon, who nickname each other Didi and Gogo, languish nowhere in particular and do nothing of consequence while waiting for ‘Godot’ to arrive and … what? Reveal his plan for them? Who knows? They never articulate what they expect. As fatalists, they claim no agency in fashioning their future yet share an abiding faith that Godot will eventually honour his promise to come.

“In its dramatisation of two Determinists trapped in an Existential universe, therefore, Waiting for Godot is an absurdist joke – either whimsical or cruel depending on your viewpoint. (Has Lotto, I wonder, been named as a play on Godot?) …

“Beckett’s biographer Anthony Cronin tells us … Beckett described it as ‘a relaxation from the rather awful prose I was writing at the time,’ and considered it ‘a marvellous, liberating diversion.’” Yet it has endured as a play in which nothing happens while everything about the human condition is captured.

The same could be said for New York playwright Dave Hanson’s Waiting for Waiting for Godot, directed by Michael Hurst and currently playing Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse near the end of the North Island tour that has followed its NZ premiere at Auckland’s Q Theatre earlier this year.

The gag is that two understudies, Val and Ester, are backstage, waiting in costume in a props and costumes storeroom for the possibility that “something could happen” and they’ll get to go on stage. Ester even suggests, near the end of Act One (it plays without an interval), that they could make something happen, which claims more agency than Vladimir and Estragon ever had. They play with the idea of invoking old theatre hexes to curse the stars and get their big break. In fact they do it! And does anything happen? No prizes for guessing that answer.

Meanwhile they are waiting for the Director to turn up and let them know when they’ll go on. But the only arrival is Laura, the Assistant Stage Manager, who grounds this play in reality and has some sobering opinions to share about acting as opposed to the art of ‘calling a show’.

It’s intriguing to note that when she demonstrates her skill by reading from her marked up cue script, the characters she refers to are Ester and Val, and the scripted dialogue she quotes is not from Waiting for Godot. That’s a copyright issue, I suspect. The gate-keepers of Beckett’s works are notoriously obstructive when it comes to anyone wanting to play with the plays. Fortunately Dave Hanson is more flexible and Boyd and Brodie Productions has been allowed to relocate the setting from the USA and incorporate NZ references – although I’m puzzled that they retain Julliard instead of Toi Whakaari, The Actors’ Program or NASDA.

To nit-pick about the credibility of understudies waiting backstage in costume during a performance, even when it’s a matinee and they are hoping “something will happen” before the evening show, would be beside the point. Like its progenitor, Waiting for Waiting for Godot is an allegory for the human condition. Although there are theatrical in-jokes aplenty, the limbo Val and Ester find themselves in while waiting be discovered and have their full potential revealed is relatable for anyone who feels they are, or have been, waiting ‘in the wings’ for their real life to begin.

All three in this cast inhabit their characters with alacrity in Hurst’s impeccably orchestrated staging.

When Callum Brodie’s Ester attempts to inflate his ego by lording it over his less experienced colleague, it’s more sad than distasteful. His panicked paranoid outbursts at both ends of the grandeur-persecution spectrum offer even more insight into the vulnerability at the core of this well-crafted clown character.

The wide-eyed innocence of George Maunsell’s more endearing Val offers the perfect counterpoint. His physicality, as a bird especially (I won’t explain why) is a delight. We readily empathise with his deepfelt and openly expressed emotions. Yet there is a moment at the end, involving his loyal fan Aunt Mary (again, no spoilers), that leaves him almost speechless but draws us in even more.

As Laura the ASM, Iana Grace epitomises the sardonic pragmatist with no time for the pretensions of ‘luvvies’. Her taking a stand for the skill of her art is highly entertaining. While her handling of the dramatic event that befalls the onstage/ offstage show is dispassionately professional, she does reveal she has a heart when it turns out to be personal for Val.

The upbeat ending is also a challenge. Just how deluded are these clowns? Is their renewed optimism sociopathic or life-preserving? Either way, this assured production of Waiting for Waiting for Godot is profoundly entertaining. Don’t wait, book now.  


Make a comment

An impish pastiche alive with ironic theatricality and inspired existential humour

Review by Richard Mays 11th Nov 2023

“But how can you give up what you’re not doing?”
That’s the punchline to an anecdote by Dustin Hoffman describing his early struggles as a non-working actor and thinking he should just save himself the heartache and give up.

In Waiting For Waiting For Godot by prominent American playwright and scriptwriter David Hanson, two unsung understudy actors backstage during a season of Samuel Beckett’s famous play, confront a similar dilemma.

Presumably the unnamed down-at-heel characters played by Callum Brodie and George Boyd Maunsell are understudies for Godot’s principal roles of Estragon and Vladimir. The scruffy pair spend the show’s one-hour 10 minutes wondering if they’ll ever get to go on, and they do go on – and on about it – but in the most joyously amusing way.

If Godot is some sort of allegory for life, then Hanson’s clever spin-off with its central ill-fitting waistcoat motif is some sort of allegory for art and the cost of creating it – one that’s perfectly apt for these constrained times.

Choreographed by director Michael Hurst, the two performers cavort and declaim around the shabby cluttered dressing room in an impish pastiche of artistic angst and vaudevillian delight. It’s not often that actors get to legitimately kick these performance tropes around, and the pair make the most of it.  

Underlying the physicality of customary theatre warm-up exercises and some helter-skelter slapstick clowning springs the hope eternal that something will happen to the onstage cast, and the duo will get their break.

With Brodie’s character constantly pulling rank on his junior partner, these are well-articulated archetypes – actors playing actors who fit a common public perception of how performers are. Whether they are over-the-top luvvies or insecure social introverts, and sometimes both at once – the pair’s ambitions resound with ‘sound and fury’, doubts and fears that overall signify not very much.

Like most plays about theatrical performance, this one is also remote from the actual nuts-and-bolts reality of producing a show. As written, the two characters are completely detached from the onstage cast and production team they’re supposed to be a part of. Do they know their fellow performers? They haven’t even met the director – making the assumption that he’s male when it’s later revealed she’s not. And should they ever get a stage call from said absent director, are they even familiar with Godot’s lines and stage directions?

Despite this lack of practical realism, WFWFG works on the understanding that its setting is merely a contextual device. Maunsell’s Vladimir understudy does have some immediate contacts with the ‘outside world’. His Aunt Mary has attended every performance in the hope of seeing her nephew on stage. He also leaves the dressing room and reports an encounter in the lobby loos during Godot’s interval with someone who claims to be an acting agent.

intruding into this symbolically small circle of thespian ‘hell’ – reminiscent of Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit – is Laura, played by Iana Grace as a young but already professionally jaded ASM. Akin to No Exit’s ominously mysterious Valet, Laura briefly becomes embroiled in the duo’s backstage ‘on and on’, underscoring Grace’s versatility with an impactful showing.

Alive with ironic theatricality and inspired existential humour, and in front of an attentive but not overly effusive audience, WFWFG delivers a spirited, thought-provoking and welcome alternative to standard mainstream stage fare.

Send in the clowns? Don’t bother, they’re already here – waiting.


Make a comment

Packed with joy, fury, discovery, despair and adorableness – hilarity around every corner

Review by Beatrice Papazoglou 09th Nov 2023

Picture this: a shortish, frustrated, very slightly overweight actor stands in a chaotic dressing-room desperately, repeatedly, futilely attempting to do up his costume. It’s more relatable than one might assume. Enter a much taller, much slenderer actor, and we are all swept away in a maelstrom of verbal and physical comedy that won’t quite let us catch our collective breath for over an hour until the end of the play.

This well-oiled, well-run-in production of Waiting for Waiting for Godot by Dave Hanson (USA) is helmed by the extraordinary actor and director Michael Hurst. In his capable hands the script has been brought to searing, passionate life, and our attention is demanded at every moment.

Packed with delicious moments of joy, fury, discovery, despair and even dare I say adorableness, there is hilarity around every corner of this play. It is only afterwards, out in the cool air and under the stars once more, at one realises just how many instances of quiet anguish we have borne witness to.

Callum Brodie as Ester and George Boyd Maunsell as Val are both powerhouses. They sustain their characters with no respite throughout the show. They are both master comedians, with exquisite timing and a marvellous chemistry between them. They effortlessly bring us with them to their highest highs, their lowest lows and their hearts of hearts.

Iana Grace as the ASM holds her own against these two, which is no mean feat, and the energy that she brings in her brief interludes on stage refreshes the space. It has been a long time since I saw a play where I genuinely didn’t know which actor I could afford to not focus on.

Waiting for Waiting for Godot is on tour right now – and it may well be one of those productions people talk about for years. Just like its ‘parent’ by Samuel Beckett. Get your ticket today.


Make a comment

A witty, well-crafted and a powerful reminder that the arts do reflect our humanity and our preoccupations – a role that is vital and necessary

Review by Leigh Sykes 01st Apr 2023

Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot was famously described by Irish critic Vivian Mercier as a play in which ‘nothing happens, twice’ (“The Uneventful Event”, The Irish Times, February 18, 1956).

This new play from Dave Hanson skilfully expands on the absurdity of the original play and is described as ‘a play about boredom that’s anything but boring’. We are taken into the world of two understudies who must wait every night to see if they are needed to perform in a production of Waiting for Godot, and watch as they ‘try to understand art, life, theatre and their precarious existence within it’.

The show opens with Ester (Callum Brodie), an understudy who is starting to get ready for … something. He struggles to put on a vest that is too small for him while carrying out a set of vocal and physical warmups. These are instantly recognisable to anyone in the room who has had any connection with live performance (which seems to be most of the audience on this night), and this is the first of an ongoing set of tropes throughout the show that are related to acting and the specific show that is happening while the understudies wait.

The setting of the play, designed by Cara Allen, is a reflection of any multi-purpose space in any arts venue. It is full of objects from other performances and other performers, reflecting the detritus of productions over time. This small and scruffy world supports and enhances a connection that stretches between Beckett’s play and now.

Inhabiting this space, Ester’s warmup exercises are carried out with precision and the offending vest (which later becomes very symbolic) is repeatedly taken on and off, and hung up with exaggerated care. This focused and precise action is delightful to see, firmly establishing Ester’s character and Brodie’s dexterous physicality.

He is soon joined by Val (George Maunsell), who is all energy, delighted with the fact that Aunt Mary has arrived to see the show, which Val could possibly perform in. The possibility of actually performing in the show is a riff that is repeated throughout the performance, echoing the repetition of Waiting for Godot itself.

The very funny script does a great job of appealing to those who are acquainted with Waiting for Godot, as well as those who are less familiar with it. Knowledge of the play pays dividends in appreciating a range of entertaining references, but those without that knowledge have just as much fun thanks to the world created.

The laughs come thick and fast, as the understudies are locked into a seemingly never-ending cycle of hope, despair and contemplation of their place in the acting universe. In-jokes are aimed at those with a detailed knowledge of Waiting for Godot, and others are created by the characters and their interactions. There are some sly nods towards breaking the fourth wall that are appreciated by the audience, and these meta-theatrical moments are balanced by those that are authentic and genuine in the world of this play.

The connection between Brodie and Maunsell is tight, and they play off each other with assurance. Michael Hurst’s skillful direction can be seen in sequences that make effective use of the actors’ physicality, bringing great laughter from the audience. A highlight for me is the section where Ester addresses Val’s lack of skill as an actor. Brodie oozes confidence and condescension in this section, while Maunsell’s responses make the most of his extremely expressive face.

When Ester and Val are joined by Laura (or is it Llama?) the Assistant Stage Manager (Acushla-Tara Kupe), the physical comedy in this sequence is joyful. A rack of clothes is used to great effect until eventually the understudies understand Laura’s role. Their response to her assertion that ‘acting is easy’ and her demonstration of the skills she displays as ASM is extremely funny. Kupe brings a fresh energy and perspective in this section and her view of the actors is very amusing.

After she leaves, Ester and Val continue to debate their situation, referencing conversations from earlier in the play and circling back to earlier pre-occupations. The witty and entertaining script continues to draw us in, and the overall skill of the production is most apparent when Laura re-appears after an incident in the audience. The switch from laughter to genuine pathos as further information about the incident is revealed is a testament to the connection we have forged with these characters, as well as Hurst’s deft direction.

The play has much to say about the nature of art and acting, that seems particularly appropriate in Tāmaki Makaurau at the moment, with Auckland Council placing funding for Arts under threat. We are able to understand the precariousness of the existence of these two understudies, along with their yearning to be ‘discovered’: none of which is possible without a supported and vibrant arts scene.

This play most closely reflects Waiting for Godot by making a virtue of a lack of action. That’s not to say that nothing happens – there is plenty to enjoy here, and the audience at this performance definitely does. When script, performers, and direction gel as well as they do here, it is a powerful reminder that the arts do reflect our humanity and our preoccupations – a role that is vital and necessary.

This is an accomplished production of a witty and well-crafted play, and it thoroughly deserves to be seen and enjoyed.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council