Druid’s take on Godot is not worth waiting for

By CLAIRE BEAVER | April 26, 2018



Waiting for Godot is the work of famed Irish playwright Samuel A Beckett.

If you have a past, present or future in theater, you have heard of Samuel Beckett’s famous Waiting for Godot.

Godot’s main characters are two friends, Vladimir and Estragon, who are, you guessed it, waiting for Godot, a named yet unseen character of seeming importance — if you consider anything in this play important.

This play puts all its importance on the boredom of its main characters and the bits they do to try to escape. They can’t leave the small area they are in, however, because they must wait for Godot.

The Druid Theatre Company has brought this classic show across the pond from Ireland to Washington, D.C. and is putting it on at the Lansburgh Theatre, one of the two main Shakespeare Theatre Company venues in D.C.

Druid is an Irish theater troupe based in Galway that tours its shows around the United States and Ireland. They do a variety of productions, from Shakespeare to more contemporary shows, and they always bring a fresh variation on shows done so many times over.

While I must admire the production quality and the costumes, I still couldn’t enjoy the show.

Vladimir and Estragon have good chemistry, as played by Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan, respectively. Yet no matter how much energy they put in — and they do put in a lot — the show just can’t force interest.

Vladimir and Estragon are homeless, dressed in raggedy old suits and talking about how hungry they are, where they slept the night before and how many people beat them up. They discuss suicide, slavery and other moral issues in a light-hearted way, never stopping to linger on the gravity of their conversation.

The set is bare save a tree with long branches and a moon that floats in at the end of the acts, signaling night. The lighting was by far the best part of this production, a cool blue glow cast over the set at the end of each act.

I understand that the show itself is a feat — an entire show not based around any real action besides waiting, just the dialogue of an existentialist playwright trying to figure out what it means to just be and wait while nothing is going on around you.

That being said, watching it is painful. There are only two characters on stage most of the time, and the other three characters who come and go are not exciting. 

One duo is Pozzo and Lucky: A pompous man who enters yanking his elderly slave by a noose. It is disturbing, yet not quite entertaining. They scream and shout, Lucky delivers the longest monologue I have ever seen done in real time, and then they leave. Yet again, nothing happens besides the entrance and exit of another pair, another set of people with nothing to do and nothing to contribute.

Then there is the Boy. The Boy comes at the end of each act to tell Didi and Gogo, as they sweetly nickname each other, that Godot will not be coming today, but he will surely be there tomorrow and that they should come back and wait some more the next day.

The Boy, played in this production by Malcolm Fuller, is a welcome presence — he is not only adorable but signals the end of the act and, eventually, the play.

We get the feeling that Vladimir and Estragon play this same game every day, never actually getting a result; Godot will never come, and they will continue to wait. Yet you have no desire to continue waiting with them.

The dialogue should be quick, playful, bouncy, a tribute to the fast-paced and boundlessly clever mind of Samuel Beckett. This production lasts over two and a half hours. 

The slow delivery and long pauses were unnecessary and definitely contributed to the loss of attention from the audience. The actors were milking the dialogue and not in a good way.

As a lover of theater and an actor myself, I was highly disappointed. That being said, your best bet is to stick around Baltimore and see some local theater — it is sure to be livelier.

Waiting for Godot is playing at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C. from April 17 to May 20.

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