Review: Waiting for Godot by Sam Bass Community Theatre
by Michael Meigs

Director Veronica Prior took on the job of directing this classic piece of twentieth century theatre despite some misgivings.  She writes in the program,  "I studied this play in college, as many of us did.  I have seen several different productions over the years, and wondered what was wrong with me, that I just didn't 'get it.'  I am a simple person, not a philosopher.  To be honest, I know very little of the 'isms' that others see in this play.  I see a story.  A good story, and one that has something for each of us to hear." 

 

This production proves her wrong.  Ronnie Prior does "get it."  This is a notable staging, an exploration in airy, droll and quizzical comic mode.  Actors and director do not flinch from Beckett's dark message, but they glide through it, moment by moment, with a tolerance for ambiguity and for one another.

 

This text from the 1950s, written first in French and later converted by the author into English, has provoked endless debte and discussion.  Martin Esslin used it to push the thesis of his book The Theatre of the Absurd.  Vivien Mercier wrote a famous review in the Irish Times calling it "a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What's more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice."  And if you want a summary and a long taste of the "-isms" eagerly applied to the play, spend some time with the entry in Wikipedia. 

 

 

ank Benge, Ashlyn Nichols, Craig Kanne (ALT photo)But your time will be better spent at the former Union Pacific railway depot, now in a Round Rock city park just east of I-35.    The Sam Bass cast keeps the play intensely alive, from the first moment with ticking clocks, when charming Ashlyn Nichols pirouettes onto the wasted urban landscape, gracefully flutters about the stage and assumes her central position and central role as The Tree.  That's a gigantic wink to the audience, a reassuring sign that we will not be looking fixedly down sewers or into graves for this two hours.  Nichols serves throughout as a bright, silent chorus to Gogo and Didi's flusteration.

 

They're a terrific pair, Frank Benge as the worried, put-out, snappish Vladimir ("Didi") and Craig Kanne as the courteous, blank-faced, bobblehead Estragon ("Gogo").  In his massive apprehension Benge works to master the uncertainity of the eternal, ever frustrated expectation of the arrival of Godot.  Kanne's Gogo lives from moment to moment and from word to word, ever capable of surprise and enchanted by mystery.  They're the two sides of the coin of human understanding.  Benge is splendid in search for meaning; Kanne is appealing in his childish  beguilement.

 

 

Ben Weaver, William Diamond, Ashlyn Nichols (ALT photo)

Their efforts to fill time, or at least to make it pass, are symbolized by all those non-working clocks on the walls.  In each act a curious pair of interlopers interrupts them and provides considerable diversion.  William Diamond gives us Pozzo the master as a painted fantastick, querelous and dismissive of the stunned, submissive creature Lucky, who wears a rope about his neck.  Ben Weaver, who demonstrated marvelous verbal dexterity as Einstein last year in the company's Picasso at the Lapin Agile, here shows a fine mastery of pratfall, presence and physical comedy.

 

 

Those visitors depart in Act I, with Pozzo railing at Lucky; in Act II they return, in extremis, with Pozzo struck blind.  All of these frustrated journeys, turning round and round, are filled with incident, never really elaborated or explained.  The interims of all four characters are, in effect, our lives, the short interval for humankind summed up by Beckett in one of the most chilling lines in literature: "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more."

 

Review by Robin Vose in Round Rock Leader, April 8

 

Click to view program for Waiting for Godot by Sam Bass Community Theatre

 

Ashlynn Nichols, Craig Kanne, Frank Benge (photo: Veronica Prior)

 

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Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
Sam Bass Community Theatre

March 26 - April 10, 2010
Sam Bass Community Theatre
600 North Lee Street
Round Rock, TX, 78664