Waiting for Godot
Written by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Thomas Webb
Reviewed by Wayne Erreca (9-17-14)
Waiting for Godot was originally written in French in 1949, by playwright Samuel Beckett, titled En attendant Godot. Four years later, in 1953, it was staged at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris, France. It’s important to know that prior to its premiere; it was broadcasted over French radio in the studio of Club d’ Essai de la Radio. Before it went on the air, Director Roger Blin read a short message to the listening audience, scripted by Beckett, “I don’t know who Godot is. I don’t even know (above all don’t know) if he exists. And I don’t know if they believe in him or not –those two who are waiting for him. The other two who pass by towards the end of each of the two acts, that must be to break up the monotony. All I knew I showed. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me, by a wide margin. I’ll even say that I would have been satisfied with less. As for wanting to find in all that a broader, loftier meaning to carry away from the performance, along with the program and the Eskimo pie. I cannot see the point of it. But it must be possible… Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo, Lucky, their time and their space, I was able to know them a little, but far from the need to understand. Maybe they owe you explanations. Let them supply it without me. They and I are through with each other.”
It’s been said that Samuel Beckett when writing was usually in a trance, which leads one to believe he was drawing inspiration from his subconscious when creating Waiting for Godot. I currently viewed a marvelous recital by Harold Pinter performing a portion from Beckett’s novel The Unnamable. The cadence and structure was identical to that of Lucky’s exhausting monologue in Act One. I, personally, lean in believing, each of Beckett’s five characters, Estragon/Gogo (Joe Kilpatrick), Vladimir/Didi (Michael Kania), Pozzo (Tom Czarny), Lucky (Jeanette Hagberg), and The Boy (Ethan Roe) were merely a part of his own constitution. His final sentence in the radio message reads; “They and I are through with each other.” This definitely offers a hint in that direction.
From the moment Waiting for Godot was first staged, multiple individuals have unsuccessfully substantiated the correct interpretation of its true meaning. Actor Peter Woodthorpe who played Estragon was sharing a ride in a taxi with Samuel Beckett and calmly asked, “What is the play about?” Beckett looked at him and said, “It’s all symbiosis, Peter; it’s symbiosis.” One definition states symbiosis as “A close prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species.” One thing is certain, another century will pass, and others will be asking, “Who is Godot?”
Another certainty for those who have the courage to produce Waiting for Godot be prepared for a tremendously difficult challenge, both in direction, and acting. As an actor, I know Beckett’s style and structure of dialogue is no easy task for memorization. It’s not like most plays having clearly designed storylines, but is chalk full of abstract ponderings appearing out of nowhere, with repetitious words that can easily get an actor off course, losing their way, turned upside down in this majestic, vaudevillian, comical romp.
Director Thomas Webb invested the passion and discipline it takes to produce a wonderful Waiting for Godot and in casting a brilliant group of actors, and creative staff (Linda Crandall – Producer, Ron Flaska – Asst. Director, Jamaica Lynne Weston – Choreographer, Diane Hubert – Costume Design, Bill Fishburn – Light Design, Gary Bolton – Sound Design, Kat Bodie – Set Design, Karen Gardner – Properties, Joiya Fishburn – Sound & Light Technician, Rachel Roe – Stage Manager, Margaret Anne Slawson – Hair & Makeup, Joe Rice – Music Compositions, Bruce Barnes – Special Effects, Jeff Kroeger & Kerr Anderson – Set Construction, Lori Wheldon – Set Painting, Margaret Schaal – Senior Factotum, Kathy Verstraete – Costume Production, Kate Cosentino – Poster Design, Ginny Hamilton, Fran Heege, Hedges Macdonald, & Mike Carney – On Book, Harold Kranick – Marketing Support, Jan Dalton – Dramatic Advisor, Debbie Hershey – Artisitc Committee Liaison, Wayne Erreca – Photography & Film Production) .
Joe Kilpatrick (Estragon) and Michael Kania (Vladimir) perform a tour‘d force vaudevillian escapade throughout the production. The warmhearted chemistry and deep-hearted emotions they share is rivetingly entertaining, and you would find it difficult seeing a better twosome in these roles. Tom Czarny’s hilariously pompous, and bombastic Pozzo fulfills Beckett’s wishes to “break up the monotony.” It’s sheer joy watching him as he devours a leg of chicken and moralizes to Didi and Gogo, leaving them scratching their heads for want of meaning. It was a bold and creative decision by Director Webb to cast Lucky with a woman. His fair bet came up aces with a jewel performance by Jeanette Hagberg, where Lucky rambles off a seven-hundred-word sentenced monologue like a swirling tornado. Although, silenced throughout most of her time on stage, her brilliant facial expressions, and emotional subtext was a delight to experience. As for the youngest character, Ethan Roe as The Boy was confidently composed and affective in his two short scenes with Gogo and Didi.
Waiting for Godot is the first production of the 2014-2015 Season at the Studio Theatre @ the Depot, and the 55th Year of the Old Town Playhouse. Beckett’s classic is truly a marvelous piece of theatre. What I took away after seeing it was two simple things clued together. Time in waiting, which we all have to do, and those I share it with. Waiting for Godot will inspire you to think and ponder, and laugh, and feel, and be thankful for those who stand with you always.