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"Waiting for Godot" at Roundabout Theatre Company's Studio 54

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Roundabout Theatre Company

Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
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By special arrangement with Elizabeth Ireland McCann

Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman, John Glover
Waiting for Godot
By Samuel Beckett
(Beckett Bio)

Cameron Clifford and Matthew Schecter

Studio 54
254 West 54th Street

Directed by Anthony Page
Set Design: Santo Loquasto
Costume Design: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
Hair and Wig Design: Tom Watson
Fight Director: Thomas Schall
Production Stage Manager: Peter Hanson
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA & Kate Boka
Technical Supervisor: Steve Beers
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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 1, 2009

How appropriate for Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, last seen on Broadway a half century ago, to arrive just in time for our omnipresent recession. How appropriate that Estragon and Vladimir, and to a greater degree, Lucky, wait for Godot (the essence of an ephemeral savior) while plodding and persevering through each successive day, in pain and pathos, inventing survival mechanisms between sunrise and sunset. And, how appropriate that Pozzo, who could metaphorically be the banking system, the military industrial complex, or a predatory lobbyist, whip Lucky, who’s on a leash, and make him dance and entertain him, as if he’s metaphorically the middle class, weary and wiped out. But, that’s just one contemporary interpretation, of many possible interpretations, as the audience envisions itself through Beckett’s glowing phrases, so stunningly a story of “everyman”.

Nathan Lane, as Estragon, exudes burlesque-infused wit and posture to this brow-beaten (literally, with bleeding forehead) soul, who gamely struggles to put on a tight-fitting shoe, feast on a carrot, or even knot a rope on a limb. From the moment Mr. Lane is revealed in the opening curtain, he is grunting and groaning and griping, sitting on a rock with those painful feet and too tight shoes. Throughout the two Acts, he engages and energizes the stage with low-key antics and high-key persuasiveness. Every feeling and thought is transparently revealed, as he opens his character to us and draws us in to the absurdity and reality of his doomed existence. He can adapt, but he cannot overcome. Bill Irwin, an accomplished mime, is Mr. Lane’s perfect foil, introspective, loquacious, and oh, so kind. He concocts the survival tricks that keep both Estragon and Vladimir hopeful, distracted, and bonded.

This bonding is further tightened when the very imposing and outsized John Goodman, as Pozzo, appears, with the slender and tortured John Glover, as Lucky, on a leash. Goodman is an eloquent brute, an obnoxious tyrant, and a callous swine. Yet, beneath the bluster, there seems to be a buried vulnerability and fear of being unmasked. In all their tattered dinginess, Estragon and Vladimir retain a sense of dignity and sociability. In all his outlandish haberdashery, Pozzo explodes with a sense of classlessness and sloppiness. Vladimir and Estragon become bit players for Pozzo, as (to allude somewhat to the metaphor above) dupes from the masses for a boorish billionaire. Mr. Goodman uses his massive presence to excellent effect, and, together, these three skilled actors feed off each other’s stage personalities in quasi-improvisational, riveting repartee. John Glover, the tormented Lucky, has his moments in the spotlight, with glowing monologue and a dance for his devil-master. Mr. Glover magnetizes the eye, even as he trips and falters, silently or laconically, with his own perfected mime. A young boy, onstage briefly with news of Godot, adds innocent appeal.

Anthony Page has directed with an astute respect for timing, as palpable silence and pregnant pauses reveal obscured meanings and dramatic intent. Mr. Page has allowed this quartet of renowned actors to maximize their characterizations with their unique personalities and stage prowess. Santo Loquasto, the quintessential stage designer, has created boulders and rocks that are actually appealing and almost cartoonish. A tunnel stage right leads to a path through this surreal starkness, while the lone tree and limbs and occasional leaf are the lone live elements of nature, beyond Estragon and Vladimir, before Pozzo and Lucky’s astounding, breathy arrival. Jane Greenwood’s iconic costumes enhance Pozzo’s pomposity and Estragon, Vladimir, and Lucky’s destitution. Peter Kaczorowski’s nuanced lighting adds warmth to the multi-shades of grey and brown, so prevalent in this staging.

Kudos to Samuel Beckett, and kudos to this splendid cast.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at