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BWW Reviews: Don't Wait, Just Go See Seattle Shakes' GODOT

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Darragh Kennan and Todd Jefferson Moore in
Waiting for Godot
Photo credit: John Ulman

Two tramps waiting by a tree in the middle of nowhere does not sound like the most engaging evening of theater. But when it comes from the absurdist mind of Samuel Beckett, you have one of the most thought provoking plays of the 20th century with his brilliant, "Waiting for Godot". But it's still not always engaging unless you have the right team putting it up. Fortunately Director George Mount has assembled a superb cast with an excellent take on the show that keeps it completely riveting.

So the premise is fairly simple, probably which leaves its "meaning" open to much interpretation. Two ragged tramps, Vladimir and Estragon (also known as Didi and Gogo played by Todd Jefferson Moore and Darragh Kennan) are waiting. These two old friends sit by a tree waiting for the arrival of the enigmatic Godot who will fix everything. And while they wait the two discuss everything from the nature of being to carrots. Only occasionally are they derailed by two wandering interlopers, Pozzo and his manservant Lucky (Chris Ensweiler and Jim Hamerlinck) who have their own views on life, and a young boy (Alex Silva) with a message.

That's really it. The play is, simply put, a battle of words as the cast dives into some of the most intriguing and richest banter ever created. But what does it all mean? That's been discussed for years. And whether you take away political, societal or religious undertones from it, or simply view it at face value, the production here is a stunning look at five actors disappearing completely into the surreal world of Beckett. Plus Mount has deconstructed it a bit further by staging it on a small theatrical stage instilling a sense of whimsy to the scene only to bring us back for Act Two with a somewhat harsher and more realistic view on this world. It was a convention I wasn't totally sold on at the beginning and adored by the end.

Kennan and Moore are absolutely delightful and at the same time heartbreaking as the beleaguered travelers. They take on the roles with a complete devotion to the piece and feel as if they've truly been together for ages. Ensweiler manages to take the gregarious Pozzo and instill him with just a hint of danger giving him a quite malevolent undertone only to give him a tragic turnabout in Act Two. Hamerlinck may not have much to say but when he does his monologue manages to go from the sublime to the crazed in wonderful order. And his Lurch-esque take on this put upon creature is hilarious. Even Silva, who has the smallest part in the show, brings in a lovely bit of sweet innocence completing the perfect tone for the piece.

Godot is definitely not an easy show to do right and Seattle Shakes has nailed it. With my three letter rating system I give it a solid YAY. There's no need to wait, just get your tickets.

"Waiting for Godot" from Seattle Shakespeare Company performs at ACT through September 21st. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.


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