Through Sun 11/5
The Beck Center contemplates life in Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s post-World War II drama. Director Eric Schmeidl and the five-member cast offer an impressive and thought-provoking presentation.
The tight confines of the Beck’s Studio Theater are perfect for this famous, yet annoyingly existentialist, play that dares to question man’s purpose. Yes, it’s Serious Drama with capital letters, but it’s also quite funny in spots (even if you are the only one laughing at times).
Beckett, like others of his era, strove to see life’s essentials (think Picasso’s later works featuring skulls, roses, abstract landscapes). It is in such a barren landscape, created by Aaron Benson (set designer) and Trad A. Burns (lighting designer) that our play opens. We see Vladimir/Didi (a sympathetic Michael Mauldin) wandering around singing and talking to himself. He is soon joined by Estragon/Gogo (an energetic, yet practical William Hoffman). Both are seniors who have been together for years and they are still waiting for the promised appointment with Mr. Godot.
Pozzo (Brian Pedaci) and his slave Lucky (Allan Byrne) join them, sometimes duplicating personality dynamics apparent in Vladimir and Estragon. Both Pedaci and Byrne enliven the stage when they appear — adding an additional note of physical comedy. Effectively switching between being assertive and scared, Jake Spencer, as “Boy” brings them hope with the message that “Mr. Godot” says he will come “tomorrow.”
But the show belongs to Vladimir and Estragon as the two old friends bicker, embrace, philosophize and wait for Godot. Nothing happens, really, except (this is a big “except”) the purpose of life is stripped of any other purpose than to meet Godot (who some might assume is “God”).
BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t think I’d be recommending this show because its thesis is depressing, but I find I must. This outstanding production quietly and strongly reminds us that life is, indeed, absurd. Beckett asks that we devise our reasons for embracing it anyway.
Tickets are available at beckcenter.org or by calling 216 521 2540.