Regional Reviews: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Waiting for Waiting for Godot
From the knowing smiles and nods in the audience at the Open Eye on Saturday night, it was easy to sense that there were more than a few long-suffering actors (and perhaps, long-suffering friends and partners of actors) present. On the one hand, we hear of the "Yes, and ..." response in improv, and the "miserly approach" (malapropism for the "Meisner Approach") which works like a charm every time. On the other hand, we hear of actors so desperate they get all their meals from soup kitchens while they wait and wait and wait ... oh, and wait for the big break they know to be just around the corner. While some of the jokes are edgy and possibly just a wee bit deflating for some thespian types, most audience members will appreciate that the show is ultimately good natured and not cautionary. Besides, misery loves company, right?
The play's ingenious set-up involves two understudies waiting in the basement green room for their chance to perform inguess what show? The parallels with the real Waiting for Godot (which one sporadically hears from the "performance" taking place on the stage above) include the characters' names, with Ester (Sam Landman) and Val (Gabriel Murphy) substituting for Godot's Estragon and Vladimir, and an empty hat stand that is reminiscent of the bare tree which is the sole significant item on stage in Godot, while Ester's continual struggle to button his vest echoes Estragon's repeated efforts to take off his boot. Like Beckett's play, Hanson's has two acts where very little happens other than repetition, with slight variation, in behavior and dialogue.
Technically, Ester and Val are waiting not for Godot, but for "The Director"whom they wrongly assume must be malebut are forced to settle for a visit from the assistant stage manager Laura (Sulia Rose Altenberg), just as Beckett's characters must settle for a messenger from Godot. Lastly, Godot famously ends with the exchange "Shall we go?" "Yes, let's go." followed by the stage direction, "They do not move." At this play's closeSPOILER ALERTthe characters similarly resolve to move, or specifically, to go onstage to to play their parts, but then remain in place as the lights go down.
Murphy and Landman make a fine comedy duo with Landman as Ester playing imperious buffoon to Murphy's callow Val. Both are terrific as they engage in vaudevillian cross-talk and deftly executed slapstick bits, but Sulia Rose Altenberg as Laura almost steals the show, playing "straight man" to the two tramps. It's all positively absurd. Don't miss it!
Waiting for Waiting for Godot, by Dave Hanson. Performed through October 2, 2016, by Loudmouth Collective, at the Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E 24th St, Minneapolis. To order tickets or find further information, visit www.loudmouthcollective.com.
Directed by Matt Sciple
Featuring Sam Landman, Gabriel Murphy, Sulia Rose Altenberg