Theater Review: "Waiting For Godot" At The Mark Taper Forum
"Waiting for Godot," as the title suggests, is about two men, Vladimir (Barry McGovern) and Estragon (Alan Mandell), who are waiting for their acquaintance, Godot. While they wait, they encounter Pozzo (James Cromwell, "The Artist") and his servant (for lack of a better word, played by Hugo Armstrong). As they wait, they contemplate life and carry out some very absurd conversations—after all, "Godot" is perhaps the best-known absurdist play.
Director Michael Arabian's production is marvelously acted. Mandell is charming as "Go-Go," and McGovern is delightfully sullen as "Di-Di." The two have a wonderful rapport, which is perhaps the most important aspect of the production; without it, the otherwise nonsensical dialogue would be aggravatingly vague, but both work to put meaning behind everything they say. While on paper, their words seem to come from nowhere, once spoken, it is almost always immediately apparent why they said what they said. When reading the play, there is a distinct difference between the personalities and mannerisms of Vladimir and Estragon, but these two actors make them come to life in surprising and exciting ways.
Cromwell is also quite good as the terrifying Pozzo, but Armstrong really shines as Lucky, displaying incredible physical stamina and bodily control. One cannot help but wonder at how he can produce about half an hour's worth of spittle to drool all over the stage (while hunched over the entire time), and the marveling continues as his thinking cap is put on (quite literally) and he embarks on a lengthy journey of "thought."
John Iacovelli's set design is lovely and simple, but the real star of the technical elements of the show is the projections, by Brian Gale. They, too, are lovely and simple, and never upstage the action below, but they do add greatly to the atmosphere of the play.
All in all, everyone does tremendous work with the material they have been given. Whether or not you enjoy the material they have been given is a very personal matter, and I can't tell you objectively what to think about the play—it is something that must be experienced for oneself. I didn't particularly enjoy the play (my taste, when it comes to absurdist theater, tends to lean more towards Ionesco, particularly "The Bald Soprano"), but I have nothing but respect for the fantastic effort everyone involved has put forth.
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