Archive for Sunday, December 3, 2000

Godot’ makes most of minimalist setting

Classic play tackles weighty issues, lets you see actors sweat

December 3, 2000


There are different types of theatrical presentations. What have always been popular and what are really in vogue right now are the big-ticket, blockbuster spectaculars featuring nonstop action. Going to many plays is pretty similar to going to the movies, only with a play the action is still live and there is no Dolby stereo sound.

But there are also other types of theater, where the action is minimal, the sets sparse and the actors come so close that you can hear them breathe and see them sweat. Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" is just such a play.

It isn't light material. "Godot" follows two down-on-their-luck tramps who were once performers. Life has beaten them into poverty, and they hesitate to take any action on their own behalf. As Estragon (Matt Hislope) tells his companion, Vladimir (Michael Luna), "Don't let's do anything. It's safer."

So they wait and wait and wait for a mysterious superior figure, Godot, who will arrive and solve all their problems. They fritter away the time hoping for a salvation, a monumental change, that will never come. Ultimately, they realize that it's life's little moments, and their friendship with one another, that make their existence meaningful.

Plays like this can be a tedious bore, or they can quietly draw a viewer in, depending upon the actors. Thankfully, the show is extremely well-played, with both Hislope and Luna turning in admirable performances. They receive fine support from Dustin Chase, Daemon Hatfield and John Luzar. Luzar is particularly mesmerizing as the cruel and heartless Pozzo.

"Godot" tackles huge issues like friendship, loneliness, fear, man's inhumanity, religion and much more in a tightly packed script. It never moves very fast, but than again, not all entertainment has to be a rollercoaster ride.

The next performance is at 7:30 p.m. today in the Inge Theatre in Murphy Hall.

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