If film legends Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen got together and had a child and that child wrote a play, it would be Waiting for Godot, the dark comedy written by Irish postmodernist playwright Samuel Beckett. This twisted, surreal, intellectual, bizarre tale made its opening night premier as the inaugural show at the new Ripple Effect Theatre Company this past Friday (9/12).
Presented in the round to an audience of 50 people allows for an intimate view into the minds of main characters Estragon and Vladimir. We are treated to the rambling thoughts and witlessness of the two hapless, possibly homeless misfits as they muse about the world and their place in it, all the while waiting for the mysterious Godot to arrive. As is typical of most performances of Waiting for Godot, the stage is simple and consists of a circular bench and a leafless tree. This set design allows for greater focus on the dialogue heavy performance of the actors.
James O’Hagan-Murphy (Estragon) and Seth Maisel (Vladimir) are well cast and fit the Laurel and Hardy-esque nature of the two leads. Indeed, one is physically tall and thin and the other shorter and more stout. They play off each other well, as if they’ve been on the road together for years. Don DeVeux (Pozzo) enters with the authority and grace of someone who enjoys the finer things in life. He is confident in his role of master over his slave Lucky, and yet is able to bring forth just the right amount of frailty needed in Act II. The part of Boy is played by both Camden Lyles-Smith and Stephan Sullivent on alternating performances.
While O’Hagan-Murphy and Maisel command our scrutiny for most of the show, the real standout performance is Tucker Dally Johnston in his role as Lucky. Johnston has the humility and servitude to lead us to believe that he has not been treated with much regard by his oppressor. But, during his “think” monologue there is no doubt that he owns the stage. Taking full advantage of the small space, Johnston moves about during his cerebral stream of consciousness as one obsessed with sharing his theological nonsense; at times addressing the audience, and at others talking to no one in particular, but always keeping the attention squarely on himself.
The Ripple Effect Theatre Company has grown out of the death of the original Byers-Evans House Theatre Company and as such has been able to stretch it’s creative wings beyond the constraints once held by its previous historic residence. That’s what makes this presentation monumental in so many ways. This first production for the theatre also marks a departure from the old period pieces for the directorial team of Maggie Stillman and Brandon Palmer (both who came from the Byers-Evans Theatre). They have done an excellent job of casting the show and creating an ambience that is both engaging and entertaining. Waiting for Godot is a perfect first choice for this young intimate theatre.
(See our original article on Waiting for Godot here)
Waiting for Godot opens runs weekends through October 11th. Tickets are $19 available here: Waiting For Godot Tix