Friday, June 11, 2010

Godot: The wait's over

Funny thing about “Waiting for Godot” is that, despite the intense baggage that accompanies it, the seemingly unbearable intellectual burden and endless exegesis of the work and its possible meanings, there is, absurdly, a lot of humor, warmth, even humanity, in the play. It’s existential slapstick in the countryside, a place where humor — granted, dark humor — coexists with bleak clarity, absurdity and, of course, despair that accompanies life. A state of being some of us were coming to terms with not that long ago, when, unlike "Godot," rarely performed in exurbia, came and went, leaving us waiting like the hapless Estragon and Vladimir, making that scraggly old tree look pretty inviting. Think it's strung enough? If only it weren't such a bother. No, no, no — just getting carried away with the mood of the thing. And it is a moody thing. But unlike the play, where waiting gets you nothing but despair, if you're aware, this time it paid off: Less than two months after its short run as part of a spring fundraiser for Theater in the Open, “Godot” is back in town for three shows at the Firehouse. 
One guy not hanging around, blathering on and on "about nothing in particular," is Stephen Haley, who is directing this production as well as rehearsing the upcoming Theater in the Open production of Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” another absurdist masterpiece. Haley, an adjunct professor of psychology at Wentworth Institute and a fixture on the local scene for more than 30 years, has long been the go-to guy for Beckett, almost singlehandedly keeping the Nobel Prize-winner in front of local audiences, pretty much producing the entire canon. Last time out, three years ago, it was "Three by Beckett," which collected “Not I,” “Act Without Words I" and “Footfalls.” He's also directed "End Game," "Happy Days," "Act Without Words II," "Play," "Rockaby" and "Krapp's Last Tape" at the Firehouse.

The current production, which opens June 24, features performances by Phil Atkins, Paul Wann, Dylan Fuller, Damon Jespersen and Max Tullgren.

No, it's not a pretty picture: Starting every day fresh. Establishing that we do, in fact, exist. Finding evidence that what we remember is not a dream. Waiting for night, if only for confirmation that we have gotten though yet another day, so we can wake again and wait for Godot, knowing, in our hearts, that he — if he actually exists — will never come. Then, as now, there's nothing to be done but wait ... and wait.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: “Waiting for Godot” will be staged at 8 p.m. June 24 and 26, and 3 p.m. June 27 at the Firehouse. Tickets are $18 for general admission, $16 for students and seniors and $14 for Society for the Development of the Arts and Humanities members. For more information, call 973.462.7336 or log onto

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