When J. Robert Oppenheimer was called upon to discuss his participation in the Manhattan Project and witnessing the destruction wrought by the invention, he recalled a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
In Germany, a few years earlier, another man must have had a similar sentiment. It was out of the resulting devastation of World War II, that Absurdism was born and in 1953, Samuel Beckett an Irish playwright gave birth to what can easily be described as the quintessential Absurdist play, Waiting for Godot.
…Vladimir and Estragon come to life on the stage right before our eyes.
In spite of this underlying darkness, and the pressure of performing one of the most widely read and performed scripts, director H Bruce Funk’s production manages to capture the same joyful comedic turns of a script that was just written the week before.
Konstantine James is hilarious as Estragon, the more grounded of the two “tramps.” James manages the conflicting aspects of the character skillfully, balancing out the characters’ innocence with his cynicism. DC native Raoul Anderson is equally amiable as the more philosophical Vladimir. There is great dialect work from the entire cast, but especially from Anderson. The chemistry between the two actors is what makes the show particularly fun to watch, especially in the scene where the two characters discuss whether or not they should hang themselves.
Aaron Selestok is the antagonistic Pozzo. He expertly masters the abrasive verbosity of the character and his physicality is commanding and cartoonish in the best ways.
Veteran actor Peter Cooper plays the unfortunate Lucky in an athletic performance, rife with physical comedy. In turns, he inspires fear and sympathy from the audience. Logan Dill brings a charming innocence to the character of the Boy.
The technical aspects of the show are equally commendable as it is clear that particular care was taken on the part of the company towards every detail of the show. The lights subtly change to reflect the changing of the sun. The bedraggled costumes are straight from the bizarre barren world of the play. Even the creaks from the makeshift stage set an appropriate tone.
Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is not an easy nut to crack. It is especially difficult for a fringe setting, but somehow, in the basement of a downtown library, Vladimir and Estragon come to life on the stage right before our eyes. Together, the ensemble brings the audience to an understanding of the show that could only be achieved through comedy. Sirs Ian Mckellan and Patrick Stewart would be proud.
Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission.
It is being performed as part of the Capital Fringe festival on July 12 and 14th at 6:30pm, and July 17th at 2:00pm at the MLK Jr Library, 901 G Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.