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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

Fools for Tragedy's Existential 'Waiting'

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Fools for Tragedy's current staging of Jordan Gwiazdowski's Waiting, a deconstruction of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, plays like an existential funhouse, with metaphorical mirrors strewn everywhere in a story that is both emotionally and intellectually engaging.

The plot begins with two actors arriving at a theater. Both have signed a lengthy contract to play Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, both arrive at the theater with emotional baggage, and both wait for further instruction. The audience sits onstage as the actors perform in theater seats. Everything is slightly skewed.

"Di Di" and "Go Go" play opposite ends of an actor's spectrum. The actor playing Di Di is pragmatic, having taken work in children's theater to make ends meet. The one who plays Go Go is more into the abstract art of theater. Their dichotomy is mirrored symbolically in the two texts that form the central conflict of the story: the script and the contract.

Script and contract form sympathetic opposites—the script being the art that Go Go aspires to and the contract being the pragmatic business that is Di Di's domain. The audience forms an unattainable set of human beings onstage that the actors are never allowed to interact with (that much is spelled out in the contract).

This is enjoyable existential theater that is also deeply emotional. The characters contracted to play Vladimir and Estragon are very compelling. Michael Traynor and Gwen Zupan added great complexity to these roles on opening night. The play includes a few other characters, and the cast rotates through characters over the course of the show's run. No two performances will be alike.

Fools for Tragedy's Waiting runs through Feb. 18 at the Alchemist Theatre. For ticket reservations, visit alchemisttheatre.com.