Entertainment » Theatre

Waiting for Godot

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Nov 4, 2013
Gary Lydon and Conor Lovett in ’Waiting for Godot," continuing through Nov. 10 at the Paramount Mainstage
Gary Lydon and Conor Lovett in ’Waiting for Godot," continuing through Nov. 10 at the Paramount Mainstage  (Source:Photo@RosKavanag)

Arts Emerson's "The World on Stage" series scores with the Gare St Lazare Players Ireland's production of the Beckett play "Waiting for Godot." (This is a co-production with the Dublin Theatre Festival.)

Though Beckett's famous play is often characterized as "absurdist," it might just as well be considered metaphysical given that its characters appear to be stranded in a realm not unlike the classical conception of Hades (or, for that matter, the Christian notion of Purgatory).

The first two characters we meet, Vladimir (Conor Lovett) and Estragon (Gary Lydon), have trouble keeping track of time or remembering what they've done the day before, which means that it's all the harder for them to keep an ever-shifting appointment to meet with a mysterious individual known as "Godot." (In this production, and with their Irish burrs, the characters pronounce his name "God-O," rather than the more popularly heard "Go-Doe." It underscores a fair question: In this odd little universe, where men might wander from one "compartment" of existence to another and where darkness comes after the sun fades away instead of sinking below a horizon, who else might they be waiting interminable to encounter, if not God?)

The two seem to be old friends; they talk about having kept company with one another for the last 50 years, and they go through intervals of irritation as often as moments of warmth, frequently speculating on whether life might be better if they were to go their separate ways. They seek novel, sometimes extreme, ways to break up the monotony; no women ever enter their presence, and none are ever even mentioned, so the one reference the two make to sexual release entails suicide by hanging.

All this is ripe for psychological dissection, if not mining for philosophical and even theological metaphor, but the play's absurdist elements come to the fore in terms of the humor that Beckett builds into the dialogue -- humor that's unerringly identified and plumped by director Judy Hegarty Lovett and her cast.

The play gains speed and loft with the entrance of another pair of longtime associates, Pozzo (Gavin O-Herlihy) and Lucky (Tadgh Murphy). Pozzo is an expansive, commanding sort, given to issuing orders; Lucky is his valet, or sorts, or his human pack mule, as liable to be dismissed and maltreated for his own weary demeanor and lack of meaningful response as because of Pozzo's self-absorption. (All of Lucky's thinking evidently takes place not in his skull, but in his hat -- which Pozzo feels compelled to crush once Lucky, who is silent for most of his time on stage, racks up a monumental word count in one wild gush of a monologue reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch.)

The lateral associations and surreal dialogue are underscored by the barren circle on which the performers stand, a grey and featureless space that might as well be part of the Lunar landscape. (The set is the work of Ferdia Murphy, who also outfits the cast in old-world costumes that evoke a period in time without feeling too specific.) Indeed, a large full moon appears behind the players as night comes on, lending the production a remote and lonely feel. These fellows are going to be waiting on Mr. God-O for an awfully long time, one suspects, both because Mr. God-O isn't the sort one ever actually meets and because time, in this play, is a nebulous proposition at best.

This production is not nebulous, however; it's sharp, well-timed, and offers an illusion of specificity, even if the text defies any such concreteness. Don't wait to see this "Godot," because it's only here through Nov. 10.

"Waiting for Godot" plays through Nov. 10 at the Emerson/Cutler Paramount Center Mainstage, located at 559 Washington Street. For tickets and more information, please visit :WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=godot:this website

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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