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GAMUT Still “Waiting for Godot” 50 Years Later

Kris Laguzza (left) and Stevie Holcomb are still Waiting for Godot.
Kris Laguzza (left) and Stevie Holcomb are still Waiting for Godot.

It’s an “absurdist” play that has inspired unauthorized prequels and sequels, not to mention movies like Kevin Smith’s cult classic, Clerks. Samuel Beckett wrote it in French, then translated Waiting for Godot into English. The GAMUT theatre troupe, based at Community High School, will take another crack at Godot, which debuted in 1952.

The professional theater group will stage Waiting for Godot on two three-day weekends, February 28-March 2 (Thursday-Saturday) and March 7-9. Tickets are $15 for every performance, except for a $10 admission on Thursday nights. Curtain time each night is 8pm.

In a nutshell, Godot is about two people waiting for someone they’ve never met. Day after day they wait, not sure who this Godot is, or how they will even know how to recognize him.  While waiting, Estragon, nicknamed GoGo, and Vladimir (DiDi) encounter a blustery traveler (Pozzo) and his slave Lucky.

Kevin McAlexander and Spencer Meredith are Pozzo and Lucky respectively; youngster Noah Jones has a smaller role as The Boy.

“Vain and pompous is pretty easy for me,” said Alexander in jest. He enjoys the role of Pozzo. “You see these nice little glimpses past his veneer. He’s, in his own way, just as sort of broken [as GoGo and DiDi].”

How does McAlexander describe the play? “Two guys waiting for another guy.”

In what should appeal to the Seinfeld crowd, Waiting for Godot has been described as a play about nothing – even Beckett wasn’t sure what people should read in to it. Some saw religious connotations in GoGo and DiDi (played by Kris Laguzza and Stevie Holcomb respectively, two females in traditionally male roles).

“It’s a very limbo type of setting,” said Godot director Miriam Frazier, also the creative force behind GAMUT. The spare scenery includes a bare tree that is pivotal at several points in the play, which will be held in the McBroom Theatre at Community High School on Campbell Avenue.

While Frazier said some see “religious imagery throughout it,” she advises that it’s not GAMUT’s take at all.  Even Beckett had a problem with his own work: “I don’t know who Godot is…I don’t even know if he exists,” Beckett said when the play debuted. He wasn’t sure if GoGo and DiDi, long time friends, believed in Godot either as they waited.

Laguzza and Holcomb, two long time local live theater veterans, display good comedic timing with a dash of slapstick. GoGo fusses with her feet while DiDi has a gastrointestinal problem throughout – you get the picture.

“He said to wait by the tree,” says DiDi/Vladimir to GoGo/Estragon. That’s about all the down and out duo knows, so they come back every day to wait. “It seems to me that the characters are stuck in a cycle- it’s the same day, every day, like [the movie] Groundhog Day,” said Laguzza. “They have the same conversation, they do the same sorts of things. This is their existence.”

Holcomb sees Estragon and Vladimir as people who may have been prestigious at one point before falling on hard times. “[But] you can speculate different things [about] why they are waiting for Godot – what is Godot going to offer them?” The audience can draw their own conclusions as well, said Holcomb.

There’s a Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello aura in the play as well. “Farces are great,” gushed Holcomb.

“It breaks the standards of theater,” said Frazier before a rehearsal last week. She called Godot one of the most famous absurdist plays of the 20th century. It’s a tragic comedy and “very funny,” according to Frazier, who doesn’t speculate about who Godot is but tries to stay within the play’s parameters. Even then it deals with such meaty topics as man’s existence and “what we’re doing. [But] it is open to so much speculation and interpretation.”

Frazier acted in Godot as a freshman at Hollins College, calling it one of the greatest challenges she ever had as an actress. That’s the point of GAMUT in fact – to offer works that challenge both the cast members and the audience. “It’s been a real stretch for everybody … and real physical.” Godot is one of her all time favorites.

“Lets wait and see exactly what [Godot] says. I’m curious to see what he has to offer,” says DiDi in the first of two acts. (Hint: she may be waiting a long time.)

 Live theater fans of the absurdist genre or those looking for something a bit “non-linear” and funny may want to give Waiting for Godot a try this weekend or next.

By Gene Marrano

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