Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Waiting For Godot
Beck Center for the Arts
Review by Mark Horning


Allan Byrne, William Hoffman, Brian Pedaci, and
Michael Mauldin

Photo by Kathy Sandham
There are two types of theater patrons who exit a production of Samuel Beckett's refuted classic masterpiece Waiting for Godot, like the one now playing at the Beck Center for the Arts. For every audience member who highly praises this somewhat repetitive work to the rafters, there will be others who will be angered at the loss of a precious evening. Godot represents the nebulous world of "Theater of the Absurd" that was in high demand in the late 1950s.

On a barren stage that consists of the entrance to a stone canyon with a short slope leading up to it, a lone desolate tree is perched. Two companions whose lives and clothes have seen better days are once again together, as they seem to have be for years. They are there to wait for Godot, for a reason that, if it exists, is never entirely explained nor for that matter ist their relationship to him explained. Vladimir (Michael Mauldin) is called Didi by his partner and calls Estragon (William Hoffman) Gogo. Of the pair, Didi is the philosopher with Gogo being the world weary practicalist.

Gogo is struggling to free himself from a pair of too tight boots as his counterpoint rambles and bickers with him. Gogo decides he has had enough and is ready to leave the area for good. Didi reminds him of their commitment to await the arrival of Godot to which Gogo argues whether or not this is indeed the previously agreed upon meeting place.

This argument is repeated in various forms throughout the play. Eventually, the pair's seeming space of solitude is interrupted by the arrival of Pozzo (Brian Pedaci) and his slave Lucky (Allan Byrne). Pozzo is arrogant and imperious, keeping Lucky in check with a long length of rope while showering abuse on the hapless seemingly mute man.

While all the roles in the Beck Center for the Arts production are expertly acted, there seems to be a timing problem. In short, the play drags a bit, even during the short comic bits. The lines between Didi and Gogo are too measured and lack spontaneity. The arrival of Pozzo and Lucky perks things up a bit, but their departure heralds the return of the mundane. This may not be the fault of the actors but a result of the script itself. In short, the action matches the grayness of the bleak set. It is, after all, a play about nothing in which nothing of note happens. The cast of "Seinfeld" made millions with the same premise.

Waiting for Godot is a thumbs up/thumbs down kind of play that you either get or are left confounded. Some audience members will over-think it while others will under think it. Regardless, it will open your mind to a variety of debates within and without. See it and gauge your reaction.

The Beck Center for the Arts production of Waiting for Godot in the Studio Theatre through November 5, 2017, in Lakewood OH. Tickets may be purchased online at www.beckcenter.org/ or by calling (216) 521-2540.


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