April 8, 2006 - by Pam Turlow
Frankly, I don't care if you hate Godot. I don't give too hoots in heck if you only see musicals. Or won't be caught dead viewing anything but Shakespeare. Or if you think Beckett was a hack. Or if you're allergic to the city of Elmhurst. Shut up, sit down and make a reservation for this show. It opened April 7, and runs only three weekends so make like a bunny and hop because this production easily falls into the top 10 percentile of anything seriocomic that I've ever, ever seen. And, as an actor and director, I've seen a kaboodle.
Craig Gustafson's direction was clear, clean and inspired. The cast is wonderful. Lars Timpa and Ben Dooley are brilliant as Didi and Gogo. And I don't use the word "brilliant" like mostly the British do, which is quite often and in the same vein as "really good." When I say brilliant, I mean it as the highest compliment.
The cast is rounded out by Steven Bayer, who makes a menacing Pozzo, Dennis Stewart as a Lucky who will break your heart, and Richie Roesner, professional beyond his years, as the Boy.
The set is the classic "nowhere yet anywhere" barren space, with tree and rock. The sound and lighting is simple yet extraordinarily effective.
This is not your sullen grandfather's Godot. This is fun and sad and tragic and hilarious and awe-inspiring and a grand time at the theatre. Clearly, the director and actors have collaborated on a jewel of a production, weaving their obvious love of Beckett, clowning, vaudeville and old-time comedy together into a rich, textured world where all is nothing.
For the love of Godot, don't miss it. Greenman Theatre's website is http://www.greenmantheatre.com/ Or call 630-748-9204 for reservations and information NOTE: A special Thursday performance is scheduled at McNally's Pub, 122 S. York Street, Elmhurst, on Samuel Beckett's 100th Birthday -- April 13 at 7:30. Appetizers and cash bar start at 6:30. $30, advance reservation required.
April 9, 2006 - by Dan Muir
Cancel your reservations to the other shows. NOTHING ELSE will be as good as Craig Gustafson's Waiting for Godot. This is the single greatest show that Craig Gustafson has EVER directed. Unless he can bring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton, and all the comic greats back from the dead, he may be hard-pressed to top this one. I'm not kidding. Nothing he has done before has been as good as Waiting for Godot. He's come close, but he has now reached the pinnacle.
This is as good as the Mack Sennett silent movies we've all seen, with a script that generally turns people off. But this is not your usual Waiting for Godot Deathmarch. This is professional caliber comic acting at its greatest.
I saw Godot years ago and was bored out of my mind, as most Godots will do to anyone. This production had me laughing so hard, I was wiping tears away. To say it's funny is a gross understatement.
Take it from a jaded old theater person who pretty much doesn't like any community theater productions anymore: DO NOT miss this show.
April 11, 2006 - by Mrs. Parker
Nothing To Be Done but order tickets for GreenMan Theatre Troupe's Waiting for Godot. With Craig Gustafson directing I was expecting it to be somewhat humorous. What I wasn't prepared for was for it to be absofuckinglutely brilliant.
The Laurel and Hardy/clown concept, besides being hilarious, clarified the text and strengthened the characterizations. The tragic and philosophical moments were handled as deftly as the comedy.
Lars Timpa as Vladimir and Ben Dooley as Estragon played off of each other so perfectly you honestly believed they were old friends. Dennis Stewart as Lucky, Steven Bayer as Pozzo and Richie Roesner as the Boy were all great too.
This is the fifth different production of Godot that I've seen. I think this was the finest one of all, the Steinway of Godots.
April 14, 2006 - by acopperpenny
(Review of the McNally's Pub/Beckett's Birthday peformance):
Is there anything quite like seeing one of your favorite shows in a bar on a Thursday night? In this case, absolutely not! I experienced something phenomenal at McNally’s Irish Pub on Samuel Beckett’s 100th birthday.
Craig Gustafson's vision of Waiting for Godot is everything you've heard it to be: Funny, brilliant, well paced, beautifully timed. It's also completely, utterly captivating. Proof? I can sit in the upstairs of a bar full of people, where conversation and melody float up the stairs, and not really register it. Why?
Because Lars Timpa (Vladimir) and Ben Dooley (Estragon) each give a performance that simply cannot be defined by terms like “captivating” and “riveting”. Because they are more than the definition, more than the standard, they have truly raised the bar. And they had amazing chemistry together!
As always, a good show is the sum of its parts: Gustafson brought together a strong, solid cast that brings more than just comedy to this script. They bring heart to the quiet and tragic moments - all the more effective by echoing the comedy of Laurel and Hardy, George Burns, Jackie Gleason, The Three Stooges and more. (Comedy, I might add, that is funny without even knowing the references).
It was wrenching to watch Dennis Stewart as Lucky - a usually forgotten presence on the stage, with a usually boring-as-heck monologue - bring a lonely, broken character to life with his soulful eyes, and almost gospel-like take his one line (long as it may be!).
It was interesting to watch Steven Bayer take Pozzo from a braggart to hopeless.
It was delightful to see Richie Roesner’s take on The Boy - a fun little devil wrapped up in a sweet looking package.
Each of these actors beautifully brought the audience on a journey with their physical movements, but also with their expressive faces and voices. Timpa especially brought the audience to a new level with his expressions, especially during one of his monologues that involved the discovery of tears.
Gustafson demanded a lot of these actors, with ranging accents, styles and vocal tones. I was duly impressed with the concentration, projection and diction of these actors - especially since they were performing over a busy bar.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Craig Gustafson on and off stage. I’ve seen him build moments when there was nothing there to build, and I’ve seen him take scripts to new levels of comedic timing and execution. But, like others before me, I agree that this is Craig’s finest effort as a director. There is no weak link. Even in a bar, where lighting and sound are limited, the stage more simply set, this production was profound, artistic and perfect.
Green Man Theatre Troupe took a chance on Gustafson’s idea of this Beckett classic, and it’s the best thing I’ve seen on a community theater stage. Go see it, because it doesn’t get any better than this.
To see the philosophy and point of attack for this production, go to my
Godot Quotes & Director's Notes page.
Go to my résumé or e-mail me at Craig@bozolisand.com
Or even join my Yahoo Theater Group.
© 2006 by Craig Gustafson