Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Longer Waiting for Godot

I have never seen a production of Waiting for Godot before tonight. I have read the play many times. When I was a junior in college, studying in Paris, Oliver Platt was starring in Waiting for Godot at my college, Tufts University, which I obviously missed. I missed the Lincoln Center production with Steve Martin and Robin Williams (thank goodness). There was a production at Harvard in the 80’s. I was nearby. I missed that one, too. I simply never saw Waiting for Godot before tonight.

With great pleasure, I must announce that this is a wonderful production and well worth seeing and if you are near New York, you should see it.

This play is so monstrously sad. It is funny, in its way. (The woman next to me, all dark curls, would laugh at something particularly strange and dark and turn toward me for approval of her experience. I have never liked that.)

You had to be Irish and depressed to write this play. It is so deeply lyrical and so densely filled with pessimism. It has this oddly light touch with a survivalist instinct marked by intimacy and the floppy inability to get it together to find enough strong rope to hang oneself.

Bill Irwin as Vladimir was a bit too light on his toes for me. Very clownish in that he walked and elbowed around very angular and loose, I would have liked to have seen him more authoritative. Nathan Lane, ever a crowd pleaser, could have been more of a sad idiot instead of a borscht ham. These attributes, heady boss and bumbling fool, are right on the page. Why not play them? Stage stars will play their tricks. Their tricks did fit, though, so the spirit of the play remained completely intact. I say, then, this play must be so good…because all you have to do is bring your humanity to it and it works.

John Goodman as Pozzo was perfectly overbearing, huge and pathetic. And John Glover as Lucky delivered the insane, repetitive “thinking” monologue that is the true heart of this piece in such a way, you just want to go out into the streets screaming over your wretched humanity.

The set is all gray Joshua Tree Moonscape. Having lived in California for years, I liked that the whole thing felt very America West.

Human souls, unprotected, waiting for a savior, with questionable memories, needing each other but desiring to be alone and to die, repeating the same thing day after day, with nothing but their own pain and games to distract and amuse themselves….this is quite the crux of the modern era. It howls. It howls. It sticks to you.

No comments: