Related Articles: Theater, All

Waiting For Godot

Golden Anniversary

If you graduated from high school, chances are very good that you've had at least one encounter with Samuel Beckett's sparse, riddling play Waiting for Godot. This year Godot, which many who know of such things call one of the most influential plays of the twentieth-century turns fifty, and to celebrate the A.C.T. has decided to revive the old goat once again. Carey Perloff, the A.C.T.'s artistic director, sits at the helm as the director of the production.

In case you're not familiar, here is the plot: Vladimir (Peter Frechette) and Estragon (Gregory Wallace), or Didi and Gogo, as they affectionately call each other, are involved, somehow, in some sort of transaction with a man named Godot. They're to wait where they are- which is nowhere - until which time that Godot happens by. During their wait, Didi and Gogo encounter a brutish, bellowing man named Pozzo (Steven Anthony Jones), who totes along a drooling idiot named, appropriately enough, Lucky (Frank Wood).

As you can see, it's not the plot.

The plot itself asks several relevant questions, questions which neither Vladimir nor Estragon can seem to find answers for. Who is Godot? What, exactly, are they waiting for? And what's up with the idiot?

In saying that, please allow me to rephrase: It's not really the plot, stupid. It's the circular, both confusing and confused conversations that the characters have with each other. The more they talk, the more questions they ask of each other, the more entrenched in this existential confusion they become.

So, how does this A.C.T. production of Godot stack up? Frechette and Wallace have plenty of chemistry as the unhappy couple. However, it seems like they always go about a step and a half too far in their deliveries. At times they're literally just shouting their lines at us. There's no subtlety at all. There are times during the play that this works, but on the whole, Didi and GoGo could have been reined in a bit. While we're on this topic, let me mention Steven Anthony Jones, who does his part to ensure his character Pozzo is as loud and without mercy as is humanly possible.

The fourth character in the play is Lucky, one who doesn't say very much. Instead, his face is twisted into an insane grimace of pain and insanity that is almost difficult to look at. His one monologue in the play is a several minute outburst of loud, circular babble, and although the audience cheered at its close, I can honestly say that I was cheering not for the talent of it but for the intermission.

Speaking of intermission, the play certainly felt long. Waiting for Godot is an extremely good piece of writing by Samuel Beckett, but sometimes the beauty of his language is lost when the play is done live. The circular eloquence of the language is almost more suited for reading, as watching it unfold can be repetitive and seem like hours.

This A.C.T. production of Waiting for Godot doesn't shine, but it also doesn't do badly what Samuel Beckett, some fifty years ago this year, wrote down on paper.

October 17 - November 16