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WAITING FOR GODOT presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through Feb. 7. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
“WAITING FOR GODOT is an absurdist play that explores themes of existentialist philosophy. The sheer emptiness and randomness of the plot causes the audience (or reader) to wonder if anything is going to happen, and whether there is any meaning in anything in the play – or in life.” –Shmoop.com
So essentially, WAITING FOR GODOT is a 2 1/2+ hour episode of Seinfeld.
All joking aside, when a work is called, “the most significant English language play of the 20th century,” it can create a sense of obligation for avid theatre-goers to attend a local production. Cincinnati audiences are very fortunate to have the opportunity to see GODOT with the talented Bruce Cromer and Nicholas Rose as the hapless vagrants.
Cromer gives a strong performance as Estragon, the Laurel of the pair. Pessimistic and contrary, Estragon is prone to giving and up and giving in. Also strong is Nicholas Rose as Vladimir. Hardy-esque and optimistic, he grasps at confused memories and continually returns the pair to the goal of waiting for Godot.
It is very fun to see them working together. They two have great chemistry and play off each other very well. As the run progresses, I only expect this chemistry to strengthen.
While both characters are aware of the audience’s presence, for Estragon it seems to be more of a knowledge that he is being observed, whereas Rose’s Vladimir, at times, tries to make an emotional connection with them, which I thought worked really well.
The two receive great support from Brent Vimtrup as Lucky and Jim Hopkins as Pozzo. Also, nice work by Jack Johnson as the Boy. Against normal theatrical convention, we seldom see Lucky’s face as he tends to have his back to the audience or he is bent forward so deeply we can only see the top of his head. The physical comedy of Vimtrup’s performance is a defining characteristic for the character.
While I enjoyed Hopkins’ performance as Pozzo, I wouldn’t have mind seeing a bit more difference in the character between the two acts. With the emotional shift in the character, I expected a bit more of a change in the character vocally and physically.
The direction by Brian Isaac Phillips is smart, and embraces the ambiguous nature of the script. Andrew J. Hungerford’s spartan design works well, with black side walls that seem to funnel the performers, and the sight-line for the audience, upstage. The moon projection worked well and enjoyed the choice of canary yellow.
Due to the fact that the show itself is left to the audience’s interpretation, much of the enjoyment of the work comes from the post-performance debate of the meaning of the play. This version certainly gives audience members much to consider.
Overall, a strong production of a work that is more about the lack-of-a-journey than the destination.
My rating: 4 out of 5
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