Spotlight: Waiting for Godot

For those unfamiliar with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, it will take no time at all to get you up to speed. Two down-on-their-luck vagabonds wait in a deserted locale for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who they feel will turn their fortunes around. They argue, make up, starve, and wait. Nothing happens until they are visited by a wealthy landowner and his slave-like servant. Godot never shows, and nothing more happens. Repeat in the second act, then bring down the lights. It's a scenario so allegorically potent that Tom Stoppard mined it for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and its wordy claustrophobia surely informs the gabfests of David Mamet. This staging by the Burning House Group is energetic and funny, if at times a bit broad in choosing theatricality over fealty to the complexities of Beckett's labyrinthine dialogue. Matt Guidry plays Vladimir with a parody of pluck, his smile a pained rictus. Randall Berger's Estragon is all pissy irritation and impotent calculation, particularly during his frequent threats to leave Vladimir—both know, of course, that there's nowhere to go. The action is depicted with a rigorous physicality that borders on choreography, not least in the second act when Pozzo (Jason Vogen) returns. Before the intermission, Vogen is all self-satisfaction and heedless sadism; when we see him next, he is blind and braying piteously for help. Don Mabley-Allen is a shambling wreck as the aged servant Lucky (he also looks about a half-century too young for the part, but never mind), until he roars to life for Lucky's prolonged stream-of-consciousness rant, wrapping himself around Beckett's senseless poetry with distinction. At times there is a tendency for this production to become too shouty, too declamatory, and one wishes for the throttle to be pulled back a fraction. Still, there's a real sense of intent here. When Guidry delivers Vladimir's line, "No, don't protest, we are bored to death, there's no denying it," he turns to the audience with a leer to deliver the devastating addendum: Good. One can't decide whether to laugh or shiver.

 
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