By LAURA LEE COTTON
Heavy with symbolism, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” presented by the winners of BYU’s Best Student Production Competition, is all about just that … waiting.
The play follows two men, Vladimir and Estragon, as they wait for a man named Godot. The two desperately try to pass the time while waiting for this man they have never met. Just as the day seems unbearable for the two friends, relief walks by in the form of a pompous master and ragged servant, Pozzo and Lucky.
The two major actors, Javen Tanner playing Vladimir and Ryan Rauzon playing Estragon, flawlessly play the two long-time friends who wait for a man they do not know for reasons they have long forgotten. They perform their individual characters believably. With humorous one-liners, the two actors play off each other with natural ease. Nothing in Tanner and Rauzon’s performances seem forced with the highlight of the show’s acting being Rauzon’s version of the childish Estragon. He adds just enough light humor to make the waiting bearable.
The director of the show, Josh Brady, playing Pozzo, presents his character with such vanity and pitifulness to contrast from the humility of the Vladimir and Estragon. His companion and servant, Lucky, played by Chad Gooch, plays the worn-out and tired servant so well that he makes the hearts of the audience members ache. However, his ragged panting wears on the nerves of those watching the play. Not to be forgotten, the fifth and final character is Godot’s messenger boy, played by Julina Hall. With a small, yet significant part, Hall plays the boy with the tragic message with shy innocence.
Full of silences and long pauses, the script accurately captures the tension of waiting. Nothing happens, no one comes, everyone waits — even the audience members. After two hours pass with little said or done, the audience members can honestly empathize with the characters feeling of anxiety to have the waiting end. Yet, the waiting is a strange combination of entertainment and impatience with the silly humor of Estragon and Vladimir.
Everything about the production adds to the heavy feeling of the waiting. The scarce set consists of only a dead tree and a rock. The characters’ makeup is white and pale, especially blending in with the old-fashioned and dusty costumes of Vladimir and Estragon.
The play will leave the audience members mentally drained. Somehow the dialogue is both profound and silly making the audience think unusually hard about seeming nonsense.
“Waiting for Godot” gives no explanation of who Godot is or why Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for so long. Beckett himself said that if he knew who Godot was he would have said so in the play. The play gives the audience members an unique opportunity to make up their own meanings and parallels in their own lives. At such a place as BYU, the religion parallels are easy to make — however, this reviewer encourages the observers to refrain from limiting themselves to imagining only the religious connections.