Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Waiting for Godot"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey

Glorious "Godot"
in Somerville

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

"Waiting for Godot" weighed in on the state of the world in 1953 and things certainly haven't gotten any better since. The world is an even more alienating place now, making the definitive tragi-comedy about alienation even more poignant today.

Beckett wrote "Waiting for Godot" (his very first play) in French not in his native English in order to strip it down to the bare essentials of language. Not wanting to be tempted to use any but the most basic words, Beckett has his characters communicate only on an elementary level. Beckett claimed his inspiration for the "anti-play" came from his abject hatred of the theater for its artificiality and artifice. He became the master of the no-plot, no-action, no-character play.

"Godot's" two principal characters seem to be trapped, going nowhere --- yet they keep going. They talk about giving up but only half-heartedly. They fear the pointlessness of existence but they're not willing to do without it. In fact their enthusiasm for the struggle seems also noble.

The Theatre Coop in Somerville is mounting a near perfect production, with the two glorious hobos positively indefatigable ... that is, their repertoire of frustrations and protestations unending ... which translates to unending delight for the audience. They argue, they forget, they fight, they sing, they canter (literally!) in Director Kara-Lynn Vaeni's vigorously physical production. Her considerable bag of tricks makes all the repetitions laughable and, in the same breath, heartbreaking. You giggle and gasp at the futility. Just watching Didi shoe Gogo is sheer heaven.

Supporting the adorable Oliver Hardy-like Brett Milanowski (Sometimes he's Stan Laurel too!) and the marvellously malleable Joe Mazza are Jason Myatt as the pitiable, most unlucky slave on earth (called, of course, Lucky), and Wayne Vargas as the highly affected Pozzo. Myatt speaks volumes hunched over in silence (and gibberish when he does open his mouth: Beckett's direct hit at highfalutin' French theater)...and Myatt transforms himself into a mere slip of a boy as the Messenger.

Vargas is disturbingly hilarious as he waltzes his way into a sit-down, protesting all the way. What makes Vargas' performance the more astounding is that he replaced an ailing Randy Farais with three days notice. All four give the performances of their lives.

Kathy Maloney's stark lighting and Tracy Campbell's even starker costumes set off Rich Archer's purple-tinged non-landscape...and catch the bizarre rhythm of Mazza's eerie, deranged carousel music. Never has a void been so full.

"Waiting fort Godot" (till 11 November)
Peabody House, 277 Broadway, SOMERVILLE
1(617) 625-1300

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