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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

APT’s Farcical ‘Waiting for Godot’

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“We all are born mad and some remain so,” says Estragon (Jim DeVita) to Vladimir (James Ridge) in American Players Theatre’s production of Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece, which opened in APT’s Touchstone Theatre on Friday. The pair’s enduring madness, of course, is waiting in vain for the unidentified Godot (pronounced GOD-oh to honor the author’s intentions, according to director Kenneth Albers). Their fate is to endure life’s demeaning conditions without the realization that those conditions are theirs to change.

Albers plays the 1952 absurdist work as broad farce, giving DeVita and Ridge license to mix Beckett’s wordplay with very engaging physical comedy. Godot, it’s been noted, is similar in sound to godillots, French slang for “boots,” and much is made of Estragon’s discomfort with his boots, including possibly the single funniest scene of physical comedy in APT’s history.

The cast is completed by Brian Mani as the mysterious Pozzo and John Pribyl as the unlucky Lucky, tethered to Pozzo with a stout rope around his neck and controlled by commands such as, “Sit, pig!”

The four, along with alternating cast members Marco Lama and Anders-James Wermuth as the boy, are dressed in costumer Holly Payne’s tattered, post-apocalyptic wardrobe achingly appropriate for people who have spent too much time suffering too many abuses on the road.

In Beckett’s mind, that description might apply to all mankind, which may make the existential treatise uncomfortably familiar to many audience members. But tapping into the folly of our own reluctance to change was probably the author’s goal all along.