Theater review: “Waiting For Godot” by Knights of Allentown

Photo courtesy of Knights of Allentown Productions

Knights of Allentown have chosen one of the most revered plays of the 20th century, if not of all of theater, in the company’s current production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.

The meaning of the 1953 absurdist play has been something of constant speculation since the play was first performed. The production opens with two homeless men, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting. Uncertain of their purpose, they refuse to abandon the task, even though Estragon regulary says that he is leaving. Ken Knight plays Estragon with a befuddled, sad-sack manner that makes the audience pity him for his uncertain and timid existence. He hobbles around the stage for much of the show, having removed one of his boots, and goes barefoot in the second act. Vladimir is clearly the smarter and more confident of the two, as he tries to keep calm amid the sense of something impending that can not be qualified or quantified. Jeff Catanese is the glue that holds things together. He’s charmingly engaging, and his demeanor not only soothes the often childlike Estragon, but the audience as well.

An unsettlingly funny encounter sends the play into a more surreal direction. Pozzo arrives, guiding with his servant Lucky by a rope. Lucky, as played by Jason Williams, is a broken man, who follows every whim of Pozzo with a cowering posture. David Mycoof’s Pozzo is likable, and explains the peculiar arrangement in a manner that is all together convincing to Estragon and Vladimir, and all the more unsettling to the audience.

Once night falls, Vladimir and Estragon are confronted by a messenger, played by Rhianna Parks, who tells them that Godot will not be coming, and they are to return tomorrow and wait again. In act two, Estragon does not retain the experiences or knowledge of the previous day, while Vladimir remembers it all too well. Or does he?

What does it all mean? Not an easy question to answer and, perhaps as all comes to a close, the asking is more important than the answer. It is ponderous stuff, played with gusto and, at times, a vaudevillian style. Smartly directed by Adam Arthur, the show hits all the right notes, and allows the audience to feel as if they are part of the action.

Waiting For Godot runs through October 26 at Toyboat Community Arts Space, Thursday through Sunday, at 7:30 p.m. $12.

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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