The Luna Theater Company’s production of Waiting for Godot puts a twist on the classic.
Because of the restrictions placed on Samuel Beckett’s work by the playwright’s estate, there’s usually little outward variation in the staging of his plays. But as soon as you hear the incidental music begin to play in the Luna Theater Company’s production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, you know you’re in for something different.
Emphasizing the play’s vaudeville influences, the music adds to Godot’s strong sense of illusion while director Neill Hartley’s bold staging accentuates the play’s theatricality. The tramps Didi (an excellent Scott L. Wolfson) and Gogo (David Hutchman) are not just stuck in a purgatorial void–they’re trapped within the cyclical structure of the play.
With nothing to do and nowhere to go, Wolfson’s articulate Didi and Hutchman’s subdued Gogo perform for each other to quiet the almost deafening silence. They invent games and scenarios that–though performed with great dexterity–are ultimately insignificant. Like actors, their words and actions are but a facsimile of life. Detached from society, they don’t seem to exist beyond the bareness of the stage.
It’s a frightening existence, and Didi and Gogo ramble on in a desperate attempt to prove they exist. Into this emptiness come Pozzo (Jerome Puma) and his slave Lucky (Gregory Scott Campbell).
Pozzo is usually interpreted as an emissary of reality representing the all-powerful materialist and the imprisoned intellectual, but Puma’s shrewd portrayal of Pozzo is less tyrannical than most. Often unsure, he seems to rely on Lucky for more than just fetching his stool and carrying his bag.
In one of theater’s most difficult roles, Campbell is marvelous, bringing clarity to Lucky’s famously disjointed speech that in lesser hands often seems little more than gibberish.
Most admirable, though, is how Hartley manages to bring us into the unique world of the play. With the music creating the appropriate atmosphere, the actors engage the audience both physically and emotionally. Interacting with the theatergoers and making use of direct addresses to the audience, Hartley makes us feel as if we too are trapped in this void where “nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes.”
With no story to speak of, Godot can sometimes seem pointless. But instead of an empty, futile waiting, Hartley and his cast make us share the tramps’ optimism that Godot may indeed arrive. And like Didi and Gogo, we too are willing to go on waiting, certain only that “in this immense confusion, one thing alone is clear: We are waiting for Godot to come–or night to fall.”