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Courtesy of Gamut
Stevie Holcomb as Didi, Noah Jones as The Boy and Kris Laguzza as Gogo rehearse a scene from “Waiting for Godot.”
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
In Gamut Theatre's current production of "Waiting for Godot," director Miriam Frazier has made the two principal characters women instead of men as written by Samuel Beckett.
It's a gimmick to which the late playwright was famously and strenuously opposed - and just the kind of chancy ploy for which Gamut is admired by its growing audience.
And it works. Or, perhaps more accurately, it does no apparent harm.
After all, besides being regarded as an absurdist and existential masterpiece, "Godot" is a play to which every patron can apply his or her own interpretation, and who's to say they're right or wrong? Certainly Beckett offered little insight other than a few comments that were perhaps more cryptic than enlightening.
I attended a showing last week, held at the June M. McBroom Theatre at Community School of Arts and Academics near downtown Roanoke.
In the 60-year-old play, two hobo types named Vladimir and Estragon spend the two acts waiting for someone named Godot who has promised to meet them at a roadside spot otherwise occupied only by a skeletal tree and two boulders.
They are really "waiting for waiting," as Vladimir puts it, because the mysterious Godot never appears over the play's two-day span and clearly (to the audience) is never going to appear.
Vladimir and Estragon, whose affectionate nicknames for one another are Didi and Gogo respectively, spend most of the play in a dance of wordplay that seems nonsensical but suggests profundity - hence the play's enduring regard among many critics, academics and sophisticated patrons.
"What are we doing here? That is the question," says Didi in a line in which "here" clearly transcends the spare earthly setting. And later, "... in the end, what truth will there be?"
The second act offers more of the same, along with a lively jig, a nicely timed bit with the characters' hats and a prolonged spot of comic mayhem involving not only Didi and Gogo but the passing travelers Pozzo and Lucky.
Pozzo is an overbearing aristocrat, Lucky his woebegone and ironically named baggage carrier. They evoke cruel distinctions among the classes while of course mouthing countless apparent absurdities of their own.
Didi and Gogo are played by Stevie Holcomb and Kris Laguzza, respectively. Kevin McAlexander is Pozzo and Lucky is played by Spencer Meredith.
Third-grader Noah Jones appears twice briefly as the boy sent to inform Didi and Gogo of Godot's imminent non-arrival. It is a uniformly strong cast, roundly experienced, well-rehearsed by Frazier and seemingly in love with the material. The bare-bones but effective set is by Joey Neighbors, with lighting by Rob Bessolo and costumes by Melissa Webster.
"Waiting for Godot" is landmark theater. Arguably, that's reason enough to check it out.
The bonus is that this is an exceptionally compelling production, one of Gamut's best. And remember: You can interpret it any way you want and no one can say you're wrong.
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