Waiting for Godot Disappoints with Over-the-Top Antics

Sarp Yavuz, Staff Writer

Waiting for Godot is my favorite play. What I witnessed in Wilder Main Space one Saturday night would have made Samuel Beckett roll in his grave. Twice.

Taking advantage of the court overruling the Beckett estate’s decision to only have men play Estragon and Vladimir, College senior director Jake Myers featured two female leads and lovers, Estragon (played by College first-year Annie Rasiel) and Vladimir (College first-year Julia Melfi), in Beckett’s absurdist drama.

As the only artistic license that made sense in the play that Myers described as having queered up, Gogo and Didi’s occasional pecks on the lips made them endearing. So much so that when it first took place, I thought, “Of course they were lovers.” Their Laurel-and-Hardy-esque dynamic, however, was a little too much at times. Melfi can single-handedly take credit for carrying this difficult play from beginning to end. Her sincerity, timing and ease were vital factors in making this rainbow-colored extravaganza bearable.

College sophomore Kris Fraser’s frazzled entrance as Pozzo, accompanied by glam-disco pop, flashing lights and Lucky (portrayed by College first-year Nick Olson) wearing nothing but tight leather pants and chains, was one of the most impressive scenes I’ve seen in quite a long time. Sadly, as the only well-executed moment of the play, the hype that it generated was not sustained.

A plethora of wardrobe malfunctions plagued Fraser’s performance, and as he was successful in exclaiming with each malfunction, they were also pretty easy to notice as non-scripted, unlucky moments that kept going for the entirety of the play.

The queered-up punch lines, most of which involved Pozzo referencing sex and grabbing her crotch, were simply in poor taste and did not fit well with the overall subtlety of this existential tragicomedy. Lucky’s tirade, my favorite part of the play, had its strengths and weaknesses as Olson’s performance was overshadowed by the execution of the scene. Constant, wordless reactions to Olson’s shouts of “Tennis!” by Vladimir, Estragon and Pozzo made the scene a remarkably uncomfortable experience.

To have the tree, the play’s singular set piece, be made up of actual actors could have been the best directorial decision Myers made, had it not been for the bizarre and excessive hissing that occurred far too often. Casting a real child as the boy who tells Gogo and Didi that Godot won’t be coming into the tree was also a good decision; however, there were times when it was difficult to tell if the boy’s nervous demeanor was a result of stage fright or part of the act.

Waiting for Godot is a tough play to act and an even tougher play to direct. Myers’s queer play was like a drag queen that didn’t know when to stop plucking her eyebrows and put on far too much lipstick. Smiling with pink-smudged teeth, it needs to be toned down significantly in order to retain the philosophical references and to successfully convey the nuances of Becket’s characters.