Review: Redtwist Theatre’s “Waiting for Godot”

The Four Everymen of the Apocalypse

VLADIMIR: We lost our rights?
POZZO: We got rid of them.

l-r: Bob Wilson (Estragon), Noah Simon (Pozzo), Andrew Jessop (Lucky), Mike Nowak (Vladimir)

What can any critic say about a nearly perfect production? It is practically complete; it hardly needs anything from another source. Redtwist Theatre, guest director Jim McDermott, and its cast have achieved a faithful, yet visionary rendering of Samuel Beckett’s modern classic, Waiting for Godot. What flaws exist, are so minor as to be trivial and, indeed, may simply boil down to different interpretations. Far outweighing any trifling objections, this production comes off as such a seamless whole, that one identifies with every character presented, realizing Beckett’s complete commentary on the human condition.

Noah Simon (Pozzo), Bob Wilson (Estragon), Andrew Jessop (Lucky) This Waiting for Godot looks backward as well as forward. Beckett’s greatest play is, without a doubt, informed by his desperate experiences in Europe during World War II. He ran from the Nazis, aided the Resistance, hid underground—enduring starvation, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the endless boredom and anxiety of waiting for salvation, from allies–from anyone. The barren landscape of the play, with its one tree, recalls the War’s environmental devastation. But that landscape also lies somewhere in our future, making Didi and Gogo, Pozzo and Lucky, four Everymen wandering in the desolate wilderness we are engendering right now.

Mike Nowak plays Vladimir with a light, soft touch. He does not go for every laugh possible from his character. Opportunity for clownishness is foregone for a realistic portrayal of a man suffering from all sorts of deprivation, except total loss of memory. This production heightens Didi’s ordeal as a man who remembers in the vacuum of all the other characters around him. Vladimir is the most alone because he has almost no one to witness to his experience. The toll of it4DidiGogoWeb builds unbearably. Neither Novak, nor McDermott’s direction, do anything to relieve the audience of that.

Even with levity provided by Gogo (Bob Wilson), one is impressed by how much Wilson’s gravelly voice and deliberate delivery lend his character gravitas. Estragon comes across more than ever as a Wise Fool. Is it stupidity that accounts for his moment-by-moment involvement in every pain, every bored agony, every miniscule pleasure, or a strange Zen-like acceptance that this moment truly is all there is or all that is left?

Noah Simon’s Pozzo is surprisingly human, for all the awful things he says. His cruelty toward Lucky is appalling; his fatuitous display of culture and learning, hilariously pretentious. His overall self-absorption, whether in his grief over Lucky’s  degradation or his recovery from that grief, is all too recognizable. This makes Pozzo 2TrioWeb less of a monster and more a man who truly knows not what he does. Which is monstrous—and human.

Andrew Jessop’s portrayal of Lucky lacks nothing in technique. What goes missing is simply some depth of experience that will obviously develop in an intensely focused actor very well on his way. Also, a young actor in the role of Lucky suggests the devouring of the young in a way that an older actor in the same role would not. Youth under a shock of white hair also lends his Lucky an otherworldly presence, although it is otherworldliness constrained, oppressed, and capitulating to oppression. This begs the question whether some true genius has been wiped out in its youthful promise. We cannot know what Lucky was or what he has lost. It becomes the question that haunts this performance.

Mike Nowak (Vladimir), Bob Wilson (Estragon) I could throw superlatives at this production all day long. But why bother? Just go see it. Redtwist Theatre has fulfilled its mission to produce great drama in a little black box theater space. For a couple of hours during this play, that little black box contains the whole world.

Rating: ««««

 

Redtwist Theatre production presents Beckett’s classic play. Featuring Mike Nowak (Vladimir), Bob Wilson (Estragon), Noah Simon (Pozzo), Andrew Jessop (Lucky), Adam Shalzi (Boy). Video includes Jimmy McDermott and Michael Colucci. http://www.redtwist.org

3 Responses

  1. dear redtwist –

    I dare you to make your promotional video more pretentious.

    love,
    gareth.

    • Dear Last Poster,

      You’re an Idiot.

      Sincerely Yours,

      Godot

      p.s. This was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

      • whoa whoa whoa now, godot!
        so riled!

        why no love? I wasn’t commenting on the production itself; merely the hilarious, self-important video and it’s pretentious, weirdly reverent repetition of “who is godot?” “where is godot?” “why are we waiting for godot?”, etc.

        also – this was six months ago. chill out, buddy.

        all the love in my heart,
        gareth

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