Written by Daniella Litvak
I’m sure there are libraries worth of literary criticism devoted to figuring out what Waiting For Godot is about. Instead of me trying to add to that library, I’ll take the Director Note’s advice to heart and let each person come up with their own interpretation while moving on to discussing Alchemy’s Theatre Company’s rendition of the play.
Waiting for Godot is exactly what it sounds like. The play consists of two men, Vladimir and Estragon waiting for a mysterious gentleman named Godot, who never shows up. What follows are many different misadventures along the way.
The costuming is deceptively simple. All of the characters more or less wear suits. However, costume designer (and director) Jesse Runde has a great eye for detail. Wrinkled and torn trousers, worn out boots (for those wearing them), too short jacket sleeves, and loosened ties immediately convey the characters are down on their luck. Likewise, the one character wearing an immaculately pressed suit shows he’s well off without needing exposition and heightens the class disparity among the cast. Also the makeup for Lucky –ghastly pale complexion and sunken eyes – makes him appear corpse like and cements his position as the most miserable wretch in the world.
The setting is minimal –two rocks and a tree –which I’m guessing was Beckett’s intent. One of the rocks and the tree look kind of like they were constructed from something that was the lovechild of Legos and Jenga blocks, which gives them a nice three-dimensional effect. The tree and rocks do their job of providing something the actors can comment about, cower behind, or sit on. Visually, there’s a nice cartoon-like gag of two of the actors trying to hide behind a tree nowhere large enough to provide cover.
What’s more impressive is the effectiveness of the staging. The actors make great use of every inch of the small stage. They’re literally bouncing off the walls and dangerously close to falling into the audience. I like how so much about Godot is unknown even his messenger –a young, innocent child –is shrouded in mystery.
The acting is very strong –although, warning, accents are used. I love all their facial expressions, not just the comedic ones. The expressions of despair from Jonathan Pier Durante and Jeff Lowe are heartbreaking.
In the technical areas, the show delivers. My biggest problem with the show is the first act, which is wry, morose and detached. Despite the actors’ energy, something about it felt leaden. I could not engage with it on an emotional level. The second act does a lot to remedy the issue. There’s more of a dialogue among the characters, which makes them more interesting as opposed to the lecturing dominating the first act. It’s funnier. At the same time, the increasing anxiety and hopelessness in their mission gives the actors much more to work with as well make me more sympathetic to their plight.
I think if you like Waiting for Godot, you’ll like the Alchemy Theatre Company’s rendition of it.