Waiting For Waiting For Godot: Not worthy of the talent on stage.

Gia On The Move, Matt Ritchey, Tracey Paleo, theater reviews, Waiting For Waiting For Godot, Sacred Fools

Co-Reviewed by Matt Ritchey and Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

There was a time (waaaaaay back in the ’90s) when Hollywood was hell-bent on producing lavishly decorated period pieces. All the trades opined that actors were having a difficult time living up to script and production quality. These days, theater, certainly in Los Angeles, seems to be going a bit more minimal again: less “stuff,” more theater. The West Coast premiere of WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT at Sacred Fools has a similar approach.

In the dressing room of a production of Waiting For Godot, two hopeful understudies (Ester and Val, get it? Get it?) ruminate, discuss, and agonize about the perils of actually getting their shot at stage time, agents, audience appreciation and relevance. They are, of course, “waiting.” The brutally obvious joke is that this play is clearly trying to take the themes and characters and style of Beckett’s classic while twisting it for “today.” The biggest problem here, unlike the Hollywood period pieces of the ‘90s, is that the material in WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT isn’t worthy of the talent on stage.

Gia On The Move, Matt Ritchey, Tracey Paleo, Waiting For Waiting For Godot, theater reviews,
Julie Marchiano as Laura.
Photo by Jessica Sherman Photography

Actors Joe Hernandez-Kolski and Bruno Oliver are hard-core theatrical A-gamers who rarely miss a beat in a performance. Here, they bravely soldier through a production that shifts in tone so often it’s hard to know what we’re watching: is this an over-the-top clowning piece with imagined music numbers and lighting shifts or is this a real-time, bleakly comedic character piece set backstage? The show crams in all of these things and suffers from the confusion. Julie Marchiano as the Assistant Stage Manager does a fine job with what she’s given, which is, essentially to explain that anybody can act and it doesn’t take a lot of talent. Sadly, this is not disproven by the other characters in the show. So if the ASM is the most grounded character in the production, what is the play saying about actors?

Perhaps the biggest issue is that WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT has nothing new to say. Sure, there are some fun moments (Oliver’s movie dialogue rant and Hernandez-Kolski earnest confusion), but where Beckett’s play may be an allegory for letting life pass you by (and the many other meanings stuffed in there), Dave Hanson’s take on it simply revisits and actually discusses the point of the play it’s riffing on.

Ignoring purpose and settling back to simply enjoy a work of comedy with two incredible actors, one finds many comedy beats forced. Whether directorial or in the script, much of the silent clowning seems out of place with the rest of the piece.

There is great talent inWAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOTat Sacred Fools. They need better material.

Photo above by Jessica Sherman Photography: Joe Hernandez-Kolski and Bruno Oliver.

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One response to “Waiting For Waiting For Godot: Not worthy of the talent on stage.”

  1. Ezra Buzzington Avatar
    Ezra Buzzington

    Huh. I couldn’t disagree more. Personally, I love “inside baseball” takes on the theatre and think this play does that exceptionally well. This isn’t representative of all actors. To think that is akin to believing that Willy Loman is a representation of all salesmen. Which is, of course, silly. I also confess to being somewhat baffled by your analogy of period pieces from the ’90s and the assertion that today’s LA productions are, somehow, less ornate in their designs or what that has to do with this production. But, I also confess that I may have missed something. This production is hilarious, the writing sharp and the direction astute. Perhaps you were expecting something a little more linear? (Though why one would expect that when one is viewing take on the world of Beckett is head-scratching to me. So, maybe I’m wrong.) Having both appeared in and directed a number Beckett’s plays, my belief is that he would have loved this tongue-in-cheek take on one of his best. Go.


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