Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Waiting for Godot
Also see Kevin's Interview with Michael Rutenberg
The setting takes place in a desert. In a post-apocalyptic temple, two vagabonds are waiting for a gentleman by the name of Mr. Godot. Vladimir, aka Didi (Jim Gibbons), is optimistic that Godot is coming, as he encourages his friend Estragon, aka Gogo (Jim Sweet), to wait with him. The buddies are joined at the hip trading barbs, theories, and wit to pass the time.
During their waiting period, the duo encounter another traveler, Pozzo (Ivan Saltz), who brings his slave Lucky (Fritz Stang). With a noose around his neck, Lucky is ordered to do Pozzo's bidding, whether carrying bags or doing tricks. But when Lucky is ordered to think, he gets carried away, and the other men go to great lengths to stop his diatribe at certain costs.
At the end of this strange meeting comes a timid girl (Melanie Keegan), an associate of Mr. Godot, informing Didi and Gogo that the gentleman will not be coming until the next day. So the duo wait until the next day only to have the same situations play out as the day before with some pivotal adjustments.
Robert Hooker and his merry thespians present Beckett's analog work into a digital world while paying tribute to The Twilight Zone. Most of the material is still mystifying, but director Hooker has assigned an ensemble who is up to the task of getting a message across, while keeping Beckett's comedic sensibilities intact.
The two Jims (Sweet and Gibbons) get along really well as Gogo and Didi. Jim Sweet's pessimistic attitude gives Gogo a lot of range to play, while Gibbons' face and mannerisms show Didi's need to believe. The two actors have a comfortable chemistry mixing Abbott and Costello with a little Lewis and Martin, and give each other energy. Pacing is slow in the second act, but as long as they keep their vigor up, Sweet and Gibbons' likable shtick can go the distance.
As the ruffian Pozzo, Ivan Saltz gives off a much better performance here than he did as Flan Kittredge in Edge Theatre's version of Six Degrees of Separation. Saltz taps into his comical strengths to give Pozzo a less melodramatic state, and more of an inept tyrant trying to make it in a desolate landscape. As his suffering companion, Fritz Stang's portrayal of Lucky makes us want to sympathize with him as he goes through Pozzo's torture. Melanie Keegan is given little to work with as Godot's page, but uses her doe eyes to get what she can give.
When it comes to revitalizing classical comedies, absurdity or otherwise, no one quite holds a candle to Sol Theatre Project. After critically acclaimed Shakespeare performances, including The Tempest and As You Like It, Robert Hooker and company have a knack for giving this kind of material a fresh outlook attracting patrons young and old. And even though Beckett is a departure from the light heartedness of the aforementioned, Hooker's vision remains clear: to create an ensemble that can challenge itself with the work given to them, while having a great time in the process. And they always make sure we have a good time with them.
Somewhere even Rod Serling is smiling right now.
Waiting for Godot will play until April 25th in STP's lounge theater space at 1140 NE Flagler Drive in Ft. Lauderdale. For reservations, please call (954) 525-6555 or www.Soltheatre.com.
SOL THEATRE PROJECT - Waiting for Godot
Cast: Jim Sweet, Jim Gibbons, Fritz Stang, Ivan
Scenic and Lighting Design: Robert Hooker and Jim
Directed by Robert Hooker
-- Kevin Johnson