Performing Arts: Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot
Through Sunday, Aug. 15,
at Lowndes Shakespeare Center
812 E. Rollins St.

At the beginning of playwright Samuel Beckett's drama Waiting for Godot, the stage is set with two shabbily dressed men inhabiting a bleak and empty landscape. They appear to be having great difficulty remembering why they are there, where they came from or what they should do next. They are waiting, but for who or what is indeterminate. So they spend their time together in meaningless talk and ludicrous activities. Time passes slowly and what stage action does occur is pointless and without resolution. By the play's end, the pair has achieved nothing, learned little and gives the impression that they are doomed to repeat the exercise interminably.

Although Godot can be difficult to watch — after two hours plus of tedious and vapid repetition — it becomes, to some extent, an exercise in forbearance; the new Relevant Theatrics Theatre Company manages to pull off a very competent version of the work, due mostly to the impressive performances of its two main actors, Brett Carson and Alan Sincic. While Carson's doughy-faced Estragon moans and complains about his fate, Sincic's calm and melancholy Vladimir is comforting and reassuring, reinforcing Beckett's message that even in a meaningless and painful world, friendship is the one constant that makes it almost bearable.

Artistic director Joshua Baggett has staged Beckett's seminal work at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center with a handsome set design by Stephen Ricker and lighting by Erik Morris. Also enjoyable in the cast are Cory Boughton (Pozzo), Kimberly Luffman (Lucky) and Toni Clair (A Boy).

It's somewhat odd that this depressingly hopeless view of mankind, written on the heels of World War II, is still considered one of the 20th century's most important and revolutionary plays. In both style and theme, Waiting for Godot has had a profound influence on generations of succeeding playwrights and is an essential example of what became known as Theatre of the Absurd — dramas that discarded traditional plot, character and action, leaving audiences disoriented and alienated and with the notion that the universe they lived in was hostile, irrational and ominously unpredictable. Baggett and company managed to make Beckett's dystopian work relevant, even one decade into the 21st century.

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