The set is a stage within a stage. Red curtains flank a stark rock and tree — sparse and pathetic like a Charlie Brown tree — on a dull road. “There is no lack of void.” This is true of both the stage and the show. Waiting for Godot, written by Samuel Beckett, is a bizarre play in which nothing and everything happens. The plot goes in many circles from a nonsensical and hopeless beginning through many strange events and unexpected turns to an absurd but dismal end that in some ways leaves the audience wondering.
The story goes like this: Two miserable men, Didi and Gogo (played by Todd Jefferson Moore and Darragh Kennan respectively), find themselves waiting, endlessly, for someone named Godot. These two men try to pass the time in many ways, none of which seem to make time go any quicker. After a while, Pozzo (Chris Ensweiler), a proud and ridiculous merchant, arrives along with his exhausted and mistreated slave, Lucky (Jim Hamerlinck), who does Pozzo’s every bidding. A ton of crazy things happen, and Pozzo and Lucky leave. Soon a boy (Alex Silva) comes to tell Didi and Gogo that Godot cannot come today, but will surely come tomorrow.
In the next half of the play, no one is sure of anything that happened before and everything seems to have changed. Pozzo and Lucky show up again, but this time Pozzo is blind and Lucky is mute. They too cannot recall the past. Soon they exit and the boy appears. He gives the same message he gave before. Didi and Godo consider what to do, then decide to keep on waiting — and to bring a rope to hang themselves the next day in case Godot doesn’t come.
During the whole production, but especially at the end there is an emphasis on time — how it can pass painfully slow or extremely quickly, how each day looks much like another, and how in one moment hope can appear or disappear. Also, many of the characters think about their lives — what they have to show for their days, what their purpose is, what can be done about the way life is, and what meaning and sense there is in life. This offers the audience the chance to reflect on their lives and consider these questions, too.
Though I found this play confusing and somewhat dull and depressing, the acting is excellent. All the actors thoughtfully portray their characters and express the style well. The theater — ACT’s Falls Theatre — is an excellent venue where every seat is a good seat, and the sound system is great. I could hear every word the actors spoke.
Waiting for Godot is a unique, radical, thought-provoking production. If you prefer more traditional shows that make sense, have a clear plot, and are logical, Waiting for Godot is probably not for you. But if you are someone who loves different, unconventional, and innovative art, you would truly enjoy this avant-garde play. And remember to expect the unexpected!
Waiting for Godot
Seattle Shakespeare Company
September 4 - 21