I saw Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin and (I am so surprised to say this), it was so very very good. Before we get to the play, here’s a cool thing I saw in New York en route to the theater. In an attempt to curb tie-ups in Midtown Manhattan, Bloomberg has shut down Broadway near Times Square and put out lawn chairs in the middle of the road. Seriously. Cricket and I sat there for twenty minutes just enjoying the breeze and the seven gazillion blinking bright lights all around us. (Photo taken with Cricket’s phone, sorry for the not-so-great resolution.)
I hope they continue this, because it was so lovely. Cricket was miserable because he despises the city and longs to be around trees and no other humans, but I was thrilled.
Anyway, Waiting for Godot. I had to read the play and write a paper on it in college, and lemme tell you, it is a slog to read. Do you know what the play is about? It’s about two guys named Vladimir and Estragon (French for “Tarragon”, I call them Voldemort and Estrogen), waiting for another guy named Godot. They’re just killing time. Waiting. For two hours onstage. You watch them kill time waiting. The end. Here’s a sample of the dialogue.
“What do we do, now that we are happy?”
“Wait for Godot. Things have changed here since yesterday.”
“And if he doesn’t come?”
“We’ll see when the time comes. I was saying that things have changed here since yesterday.”
“Look at the tree.”
“It’s never the same pus from one moment to the next.”
Seriously, two hours. There are two other characters, Pozzo and Lucky, and they come in and cause a bit of a diversion, but mostly it’s dialogue like the stuff you just read. It is brutal, just brutal to read. However, when put in the hands of Bill Irwin and Nathan Lane, specifically Nathan Lane, it becomes moving, and funny. Nathan Lane can make anything funny. He makes this funny. I don’t know how he does it. If you’re going to see a performance of Waiting for Godot, this is the one to see. Just one comment:
Lucky’s big moment is this long speech in Act I. If taken as a whole, it is complete gibberish. If you break it into smaller chunks. you can find meaning in it. All I could think about while Lucky was doing his speech is how similar it sounds to that famous internet clip of Miss South Carolina giving her answer on education:
I cannot use the phrase “such as” anymore. Damn you, Miss South Carolina!
*The title refers to the final stage direction in the show:
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go. (They do not move.)