By Thom deMartino
Who knew that “nothing” could be so entertaining?
As its two-week run at Golden West College’s Mainstage Theater draws to a close, director Tom Amen’s production of Samuel Beckett’s classic play “Waiting For Godot” continues to demonstrate that the sexagenarian work can still both entertain and baffle its audience, perhaps even leaving them exiting the theater with more questions than answers.
Touted as a “tragicomedy in two acts,” where “nothing happens — twice,” the story revolves around Vladimir (Scott Keister) and Estragon (Paul Jasser), two disheveled everymen of unknown station, as they wait beside a lonely country road for the enigmatic “Godot:” perhaps for employment, perhaps some other purpose. Vladimir (or “Didi,” as Estragon sometimes calls him) has convinced his friend (that he refers to as “Gogo”) to wait for this mysterious figure, even though he himself only vaguely knows the man. The pair struggle to pass the time, arguing, rambling, waxing poetic, philosophical — even suicidal.
Their boredom is mercifully interrupted by the sudden, pompous presence of the alternatingly braggadocious and pious Pozzo (Matt Koutroulis) and his ironically-named simpleton servant Lucky (Jack Clark), as the former takes his serf to market — presumably to sell. Estragon mistakes Pozzo for Godot at first, leading the man to inquire about the tardy benefactor, then launching into further musings on the human condition, and eventually goading Lucky into “entertaining” the duo. Time passes, slapstick ensues, boots and hats are donned and doffed, as the audience ponders along with the men the true nature of “Godot.”
The real challenge of “Godot,” is that the whole work is really down to the interpretation of the viewer — the piece often seems poetic, other times pointless; sometimes heady, sometimes lowbrow. Author Beckett once noted that he had regretted his choice of the title character’s name, as it had led to so many theories about God: leaving the true identity of the inscrutable figure in the mind of the beholder.
But what does it all mean, really? Is it as absurd as life seems, at times, to be?
“For me, the play is about Hope; hope deferred, yet never entirely extinguished,” notes director Amen, in an introduction in the show’s program. “Far from being nihilistic or meaningless, as some have described it, I see great optimism in the play; the will to go on, to endure, to survive. In the world of Vladimir and Estragon, there is always tomorrow, and maybe, just maybe, it will be better…”
While those who prefer the more straightforward-style plot may find themselves stymied by the piece (it does tend to drag towards the end of Act I,) that is only upon the work itself and not the actors: in fact, the chemistry, physical comedy and timing between Keister and Jasser keep what could be a ponderous piece lively and uptempo, the audience hanging on every quizzical word, gesture and gag. The characters are not quite the yin to the others’ yang, but more of an oil to a vinegar: valuable in their own right, but delectable when mixed up in their shenanigans.
If you hurry, you may be able to catch the last showing of this quirky, thought-provoking production — but if not, there’s certain to be still more quality work from Golden West’s Mainstage Theater throughout the coming year.
But if you can, join Didi and Gogo in their anticipation.
“Yes – let’s.”
“Waiting For Godot”, Scott Keister and Paul Jasser star in this production of the classic and contextual Samuel Beckett play. Playing at the Golden West College Mainstage Theater, 15751 Gothard St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Tickets available through the box office at 714-895-8150, x1 or at www.gwctheater.com. Final show Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m.
Categories: Arts & Leisure
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