Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“Waiting For Godot”

godotOne of the hardest plays to produce is Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot”. Most productions are done inn to large of a theater and thus the intimacy of this small, thought provoking story gets lost. One of our newer and smaller companies, Chicago Mammals, a troupe that “explores works embracing themes of history,mythology and destiny using the genres of science fiction,horror and phantasmagoria” ( this is what their mission statement states), has elected to perform this classic in a second floor loft-like venue called ZOO Studios located at 4001 N. Ravenswood ( at Irving Park) in Chicago. This is a 40 seat room with no actual stage, but works fairly well for this play. The set is very simply a bench and a tree that appears to have seen better days, or is it really a tree that is just starting to blossom. That is just one of the questions in this think piece directed by  Bob Fisher.

For those who are not aware of this Beckett masterpiece, the story is about two tramps, homeless and together for many years who have endured a great amount of pain and suffering. Gogo (played well by Justin Warren, who might be a little to young for the role, but does a fine job) keeps getting beaten each night as he finds a place to sleep and has a terrible problem with his shoes. Didi ( deftly handled by Sean Ewert) has a problem with his urinary tract and is the keeper of the food ( what little they find). They are almost a Laurel and Hardy duo, in that they have comical moments together, relying on each other to make each day go by with less pain. While they have very little, they do have each other and because they have a place to be in order to wait for Godot ( who is for all intents and purposes, a mythical dream that Didi has created, we never see this man) they do have hope.

During this two days period ( which takes place over two acts, the 1st being one hour ten minutes and the 2nd 55 minutes) they also encounter three other characters. First is the duo of Pozzo ( an extremely funny portrayal by Gabe Garza) and his lackey, Lucky ( well played by Vincent Lacey) who says nothing. Lucky is Pozzo’s man servant and there are many comical moments in this scene, and then again in another scene in the second act which shows them both in another light. The third character the Boy is played by an older man, Bert Matia, whose only purpose is to keep these men coming back each day as Godot will not come tonight, but will be here tomorrow is what he relays at each appearance. Does he exist? Is this all a part of the imagination of Didi ( who is the one that meets him each evening) as the hope that he needs to continue to survive with his friend Gogo. In fact, since we never meet Godot, the question is if Beckett devised all of these outsiders to become a part of the lives of Gogo and Didi to explain their togetherness and the hope that tomorrow will in fact bring something better than yesterday and today.godot1

This  is a sharp production with a lot of high energy by the cast and Fisher has used some new ideas to bring a bit more humor to the story. Due to the very small theater, the audience being just a few feet from the players, the cast members , in some cases, appear to be speaking directly to us and that seems to draw us unto the plight of these two homeless ( but not hopeless) men. There is very little in the way of tech on a show like this , in a theater like this and only 6 lights illuminate the stage area. It is the playwright and the actors under Fisher’s direction that illuminate the story allowing us to sit there for over two hours in what I would have to call a refrigerator of a theater. Tonight being one of the coldest nights in years, didn’t help, but for those  of you who are going to take the opportunity to see this production, may I suggest wearing layers or bringing a blanket, just to be safe and warm. If not, you may fell the chill that a homeless person might feel on a wintry night ( so much for realism).

At this point, this was to have been a short run with the production ending on Monday ,January 28th ( but they are announcing an extension) so I would check with www.chicagomammals.com  just to make sure.

Tickets are a mere $22 with open seating and there is plenty to free street parking.

Call 1-866-593-4614 or visit www.godot.brownpapertickets.com

 

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at “Waiting for Godot”

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