The Unbearable Banishment: <i>nothing to be done</i>: a night with Beckett

Saturday, April 4, 2009

nothing to be done: a night with Beckett

CB and I saw the Roundabout Theater Company production of Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin and John Goodman. Goodman shaved his head! He’s gotten so massive that he looks like a Bond villain. And nobody can navigate a stage like Nathan Lane. His movements are fluid and graceful.

We loved it, although some audience members didn’t return after the intermission. I understand why they would bail out. Samuel Beckett is about as esoteric as Broadway gets and he’s definitely an acquired taste, so if you've wandered in off the street and didn’t know what you were getting yourself into, you might be more inclined to walk out.

The first time I saw a production of Godot was many years ago in a dingy Bowery theater. I was prepared for an evening of pretentious babble and nonsense but it’s actually a surprisingly funny play. The absurdity of two idiots waiting for someone who is never coming has more comic potential than you would think. It’s worth the effort to hang on to the stream of dialog as it’s flying by (and, yes, it can be an effort at times).

You have to let go of the notion that there’s a traditional linear plot with a beginning, middle and end. As we were leaving the theater, I overheard someone say, “Well, I have no idea what that was about.” It’s not about anything. (Well, to me, anyway. The show is probably fraught with metaphor but that stuff always gets by me. You can’t be subtle with me. It won’t work.) If it's about anything at all, it seems to me it's about the language and the acting. A story? Not so much.

The last 30 seconds might have been the best part of the show. There was a gloriously staged fade-out. Estragon (Lane) and Vladimir (Irwin) wait under the tree looking slightly upward. The lights begin to slowly, slowly dim. The shadows thicken, nothing is said, and the silence is heavy. It was a masterwork of stage design and lighting. Beautiful.

Someone did us a solid favor. We were sitting way the hell in the back of the balcony and during the intermission a man walked up to us, asked if we wanted to sit in the orchestra section and handed us his two ticket stubs. He didn’t like the show and instead of just leaving the theater, he walked back to the worst seats in the house and upgraded us. They were $116 seats. What a pal!



Blogger Barlinnie said...

Now see that act of kindness reet? That's the sort of thing that would happen here in Glesga.

People with money remember what it was once like to have limited funds.

The feel good factor it generates is amazingly good for the soul.

Good for you pal.

April 4, 2009 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love the 'gift' - will have to remember that one the next time i walk out on a performance!

have never seen "Waiting for Godot". i have seen "Waiting for Guffman". not the same, i suspect...

April 4, 2009 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jimmy: It's enough to restore your faith in the human race, isn't it?

Daisy: Really? A master thespian like yourself never saw Godot? Have you read it?

April 4, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That guy was cool. More people should do that.

April 4, 2009 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

"The absurdity of two idiots waiting for someone who is never coming has more comic potential than you would think" Quite right. Of course, the absurdity of just one idiot doing the same thing is essentially the "blind date" plot so loved by writers of sitcoms.

April 5, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

amateur thespian FAIL. i shall always be an amateur... unless there is bloodshed, music or muppet sex? i don't get out much...

April 5, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ever since drama lessons at school when they taught us about Waiting for Godot, I've really wanted to see it. Maybe one day I'll actually get round to it. I like it when things are about nothing, which means you can draw your own conclusion. Some people get frustrated when there isn't a clear cut narrative story going on. Nicht moi.

Just been having a blog catch up, sorry to read about the job hunt struggle. Re: the healthcare system in the states, I read a piece in the Sunday Times today which I found really interesting, about a guy who set up an organisation to give free healthcare to people. Here's the link if you fancy a read:

April 5, 2009 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jo: Welcome back from your trip. Thank you for the kind words and the Times article.

April 5, 2009 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger bob said...

'Tis the season of Godot. We've got Gandalf and Captain Picard doing it over here in the next month or so.

I love the play and am glad the Roundabout did it up right.

April 6, 2009 at 4:57 AM  

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