The thing about Waiting for Godot is this: it doesn't matter what it's about. Is it purgatory? Hell? An allegory for the cold war? Are they all facets of a broken mind? Does Beckett just hate us and want to show us he's as smart as Camus? Is it the Beyond section of a Bed, Bath & Beyond? No. Yes. Maybe. Who cares? It's not about that. I'm certainly not going to bore you with my interpretation (it involves pieces of all of those things combined with some Jungian theory). It doesn't matter. Waiting for Godot is about the work that you put into it and the context you decide to set it in.
What also matters is those words. All those elegant, thought provoking, words making me question whether the nature of reality is relative, shared or vibrational. Words making me not ask whether God is dead, but whether he hates us with the cold patience of a thousand moons. Words written over 60 years ago and haunting me today as if they were written yesterday. I've heard the words be described as Shakespearean, but that is selling short the genius of Beckett, his words and the roles he created.
It's just not that Andrew Hickman, Tim Blough, Liam Mykael O'Sruitheain and Alastair Morley Jaques are good. They're flawless. Hickman is captivating as he endows Vladimir with such a schizophrenic menace that his moments of lucidity are made all the more chilling by his Joker-like demeanor. Estragon is tricky because he can sometimes be played as such a cipher that we never fully get drawn into his pain. Tim Blough infuses him with such warmth and unpretentious pathos that (for the first time in one of my viewings of this production) I felt the pain in his feet and the confusion in his heart. Blough never once goes for the easy reaction or moment and plays 90% of the role in his eyes and I loved him for it. O'Sruitheain has been one of my favorite actors to watch in this town for a while now and somehow he managed to surprise me, make me laugh and break my heart all at the same time. Liam is remarkable always but tonight I felt privileged to witness his grace. Finally, Jaques gives one of the most physically demanding performances I've ever witnessed on stage and does it perfectly. He shows a range of concentration and depth that is staggering and watching him slowly bring himself to silent tears has been one of the most powerful moments I've had in a theater in years.
Brad Hills directed this show with such a subtle hand that I don't think any of us outside of the cast will really ever know how impossible his job really was. So many directors try and add little hints throughout Godot to try and let the audience know where they stand on the meaning of Beckett's words. Hills doesn't give us an inch. He respects not only the words, but the audience enough to let us ruminate on the meaning of one of the finest plays of the 20th century.
ITW's staging of Godot is one of the finest pieces of theater I've ever sat through. Not just in Bend, but in my life. My brain is open, my eyes can see and all I can think to myself is... what do we do now?
The show runs through Sunday, April 22 and tickets are available here!