Theater: Waiting for Godot

By Yuzhu Xiang

You might not know who Mr. Godot is, but if you have taken any theater courses or have read any into theater books, you certainly know about Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Voted as “the most significant English language play of the 20th century,” Waiting for Godot is one of absurd theatre’s leading plays. And recently, the Jungle Theatre brought this groundbreaking work to Twin Cities. Samuel Beckett was an Irish, avant-garde novelist, play-wright, theater director and poet. His works concern themselves with the darker side of human nature and the meaninglessness of his character’s lives. Waiting for Godot is Beckett’s most influential work, one that brought him international fame and the 1969 Nobel Prize in literature. Waiting for Godot takes place in only two acts. Each act is depicts one day with Act Two depicting the day after Act One. Both acts begin at the end of the afternoon. In Act One, two old men, Vladimir and Estragon, claim that they are waiting for Mr. Godot, a man they hardly know. To pass time, they converse, eat, sleep, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats and contemplate suicide; nothing meaningful. By the time the curtain falls on the first Act, Mr. Godot still hasn’t come. In Act Two they are still waiting for Godot, still doing the same meaningless things. Once again he doesn’t arrive. The play leaves us to wonder: will Mr. Godot ever come and set Vladimir and Estragon free? Or will the two be forever trapped in their meaningless world? The talented actors Nathan Keepers and Jim Lichtscheidl portray Estragon and Vladimir wonderfully. The contrast between Vladamir’s and Estragon’s mannerisms made the show more convincing and interesting. Vladimir uses full vocal range deliberately, ran around the stage, and moved exaggeratedly. In contrast, the character of Estragon was slouchy. The actor spoke in a narrower vocal range and usually moved with excessively relaxed postures. The contrast created a lot of ironic humor in the play, something that might not have been apparent in the script. The set designer also gave the audience a big surprise. The nearly empty stage with a symbiotic bare tree to the left created a desolate scene. For most of the show, there was no sound except the voices of the characters; a very effective way to show emptiness and hopelessness that echoed the set design. This play, like many other Beckett’s plays, created what he called “a literature of the “unword.” The whole play successfully showed us the inner world of the two main characters and ironically underlined their emptiness and hopelessness. Because the play is so elemental and ambivalent, you can interpret it in many different ways: psychologically, politically, philosophically, or religiously. You may laugh during the show, you may seriously think of what Godot means to you after the show, as the advice of Sunday Times critic Harold Hobson wrote, “Go and see Waiting for Godot. At the worst, you will discover a curiosity, a four-leafed clover, a black tulip; at the best, something that will securely lodge in a corner of your mind as long as you live.” refresh –>