Waiting for Godot
Don’t wait to buy your tickets for stellar Beckett production
|The Mammals presents|
|Waiting for Godot|
Review by Anuja Vaidya
For the last 60 years audiences around the world have watched Gogo and Didi wait for Godot, despite the fact that it forces them to question the very basis of their existence. The play’s genius lies in the fact that while laughing at the sheer absurdity of all that is happening onstage you also recognize the absurdity of your own life offstage. It takes a talented cast and crew to bring out that genius. But The Chicago Mammals does exactly that.
It has been said that Waiting for Godot is a play in which nothing happens twice. I would go so far as to venture that while nothing happens twice, everything happens once. The play presents a variety of relationships and situations for which we are given no context, making them representative of all human relationships or interactions. Slapstick humor and witty dialogue cut through the script, helping to alleviate the sense of desolation. But, the idea that our existence is ultimately purposeless is palpable even as Gogo’s pants fall down.
Given that this a play stripped of a conventional plotline, it is up to the cast to ensure that the audience is drawn in. Add to that the fact that the play is intentionally repetitive and the cast has tricky task on its hands. The Chicago Mammals cast does a truly wonderful job. Despite the production’s length, the show maintains its gripping energy throughout.
Justin Warren as Gogo and Sean Ewert as Didi are fantastic. They complement each other perfectly. While every line and movement certainly feels stylized, it stops short of feeling over-rehearsed. They are ridiculous to the point of being pitiable. They deliver the most cutting observations on human life casually, so much so that it takes a few minutes for it to sink in, forcing us to pay attention and listen hard, because it is those moments that you take away with you.
Gabe Garza as Pozzo is appropriately vile. You can’t help but hate him and find him disgusting. Garza plays Pozzo with a heavy accent, which certainly adds to the hilarity of the play but is the one drawback of his performance. The accent makes it hard to understand what he is saying. Given that the play is a tad difficult to follow, this feels like an added (and unnecessary) hindrance.
Vincent Lacey plays the hapless Lucky and, along with Garza, gives a performance that makes us squirm as the obvious and arbitrary inequality of their respective circumstances play out.
Ultimately, this production of Waiting for Godot succeeds in staying true to Beckett’s honest but dark vision but also makes it accessible. If you feel a need to ponder the absurdity of our existence, while at the same time witnessing some stellar performances, then this production comes highly recommended.
Waiting for Godot continues through February 9th at Zoo Studios, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map). Tickets are $22, and can be ordered at BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ChicagoMammals.blogspot.com. (Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission)
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