Joel Swetow as Estragon and Robertson Dean as Vladimir Photo by Craig Schwartz
GuhDough’? Gawd’oh! Samuel Beckett, some scholars say, wanted Godot to be pronounced with the emphasis on the God.
As Gogo and Didi (Joel Swetow as Estragon and Robertson Dean as Vladimir) await the arrival of Godot, the One who never comes, His Boy (Owen Sholar) materializes to announce that He, Godot, may come… tomorrow. But, even when tomorrow comes, things remain the same. They are Waiting… for Godot.
Director Andrew J. Traister sets the scene traditionally on Michael C. Smith’s barren plain: some rocks, a tree, a road. Beckett’s stage directions are very clear and Traister is loyal to them: the pauses, the exchanges and, of course, the waiting.
The action of Act I is a bit slow and labored, spurred briefly into over drive by Lucky’s (Mark Bramhall) amazing rant. What Beckett really wanted audiences to experience is up for speculation. John Lahr, in the New Yorker’s review of a recent Broadway production of the play mentions that when it opened with his father, Bert Lahr, in the role of Vladimir, audiences walked out. It was so very different from what anyone expected (especially with the Cowardly Lion starring in the play) that they simply could not fathom the depths and heights of inquiry to which Beckett’s writings would take us in the next fifty years. His examination of the human condition in oblique and confusing scenarios is the sort of thing that one either makes time for and works at, or throws up his hands in search of an easier row to hoe. The brave and the stubborn stick around.
The laughs are here, strained and quizzical. To really get beneath the surface of Godot, one must take the time to not only listen to the text and examine the plot, but do so more than once. One may still emerge kicking and screaming “What does it all mean??” Of course, that’s what it all means. We appear. We are present. We are confronted with issues and problems and if we are lucky (or even Lucky!) we deal with them and continue with new stuff until the final curtain.
High school students in the audience behind us were confused, but returned to see things pick up… a little… in the second act. Gogo and Didi are still anchored to their spot on the road and are interrupted again by Pozzo (Mitchell Edmonds) and Lucky’s return. Lucky’s rope is shorter so that Pozzo is more easily guided, as he has lost his sight. The metaphors are all up for grabs, the banter comes more quickly and even though none of the basic questions are directly answered (Why are we here?? When will the Truth be revealed? Godot?) Beckett leaves us with a sliver of hope that something may happen … tomorrow.
This short reprise of Samuel Beckett’s classic drama will only be available for two weeks at A Noise Within. Not for the impatient nor those who need to have their plots tied up in neat little parcels, this production is worth spending time with.
Closes January 24, 2009
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A Noise Within
234 S. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
818 240 0910 ex 1