I went to “Waiting for Godot” last week to get an idea of how it would be on stage. I knew it wasn’t going to rival Nathan Lane’s rendition on Broadway. I didn’t realize the director saying in an interview over half the audience is going to hate this play was a warning. I have never wanted to get out of a theatre so bad in my life. The performance was so painful, it was physically uncomfortable.
It was bad acting, bad directing, amateurish set and costumes (but 3 pages of sponsors). But they get to say they did Godot (or “Gotto” as they said). Just because the word “absurdist” is used to describe the play doesn’t mean we throw acting out the window and leave the audience wondering what is going on.
Vladimir was busy being the lead, pretty and profound. He was busy acting for us, showing us all he could do. He was a machine. Estragon whined, pouted, moaned, and was overall unintelligent. Pozzo was from the Ponderosa apparently; he was played with an all encompassing Southern accent.
Lucky saved the first act. He was well cast. He was bulbous man and was able to look like a human who had been reduced to creature status. He had a James Earl Jones-ish voice so when he opened his mouth for his soliloquoy, you didn’t expect that voice to come out of him.
The scared Boy was good too (and not just because when he appeared you knew the act was coming to an end). I didn’t get to see him the first time because he stood behind us. Then Vladimir joined him. Behind us. I’m all for theatre- in- the- round but this was theatre- in- the- hexagon and I am not turning around when you are smack dab behind me. But the Boy was good. You could hear terror in his voice (I wanted to point it out to Didi as an example of inflection, you know, not monotone).
During the first act, I compiled a list of works community theatre should not be allowed to do, starting with anything by Beckett and anything by Shakespeare. By the middle of the second act, I had decided community theatre should not be allowed to do anything.
I bashed the performance in my head until the curtain call. All eight of us in the audience clapped as they stood there on stage, back lit. Then they brought the lights up and I realized they were the themes of Godot. What are you doing as you wait for the end? What is the point of our existence? Performing is what these gentlemen have decided to do. No one goes on stage with the intention to stink. They’re doing this because they enjoy it and want to do it. I got to see the play and have an idea of how it looked up.
The acting was unfortunate, but I had been warned. The words still moved me. The play carried the actors. When delivery and timing are butchering the experience and you still question and start wondering what are we doing, that is strong writing.