Special Report

Modern classic is classic.


  1. How long was the wait to buy tickets?


  2. Matthew Lickona says

    How long did you wait for cocktails afterward?

  3. How long have you been waiting for someone to comment here?


  4. Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

    “We give birth astride a grave.”

    Too many thoughts to clog the comment thread.

    For a play that is basically an extended riff on the Gravedigger scene in “Hamlet,” “Godot” is fiercely moralistic and relentless in its challenge to anyone brave enough to witness its 120 minutes.

    What comes across again and again is what Pope Benedict has mentioned (forgive me if I don’t quote him exactly) as the weight of everyday existence…the ongoing temptation to succumb to the “darkness and the shadow of death.” For Beckett, the emptiness is too solid to be filled with the hope of Redemption. It crushes his endearing – but not quite innocent – clowns under its weight.

    But, but:
    “Had Christ, who once was slain,
    Not burst his three-day prison,
    Our faith had been in vain:
    But now has Christ arisen,
    Arisen, arisen, arisen;
    But now Christ has arisen!”
    (Hymn for Lauds, Easter Friday)

    • What Pope Benedict has mentioned sounds almost exactly like Walker Percy’s principal theme. Thank you for this.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says


      I love the thought of Godot as a moralistic play. If you have any more thoughts on that theme, please set them down here!

      • Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

        Okay, but only because you asked. And because it is Divine Mercy Sunday, and I have mercy on my mind.

        Here is where the absurdists stumble. Beckett and his confreres seek to offer up a world that is ostensibly merciless and meaningless. (See also Endgame; anything by Pinter or Albee.) But Beckett cannot quite find a way to leave mercy out of the equation, at least in Godot.

        To be sure, cruelty is the first order of the day. But can we doubt that Didi and Gogo share something, though we may not call it love? They cannot quit each other, at any rate. So the essential humanity of the person comes through, however dark the darkness. (OTOH Albee may come closer to a depiction of a truly godless world, but evisceration seems to be his specialty.)

        When it comes to meaninglessness, however, the whole foundation crumbles. And this is why although I love Waiting for Godot and most of its successors, they speak truth even while denying it. Because using language to portray a world without meaning is a Sisyphean enterprise.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          Well said, sister. If I have time to answer, I will. If not, thank you for humoring me. You articulate what gives Godot more depth than it would have if it were entirely absurd: There are those flickers of friendship (or something like it) between Didi and Gogo, as well as pity for Lucky (and [misplaced?] pity for Pozzo).

          Those, like the occasional fragments of cogent thought or poetic beauty sprinkled throughout the otherwise (hilariously) debased dialogue (see also: The Waste Land), pull against the nihilism in the play, even as the nihilism pulls right back.

  5. Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

    Back to Shakespeare:

    Beckett offers up roughly half of the Bard’s Seven Ages of Man – youth, middle age, and dotage. The Boy is a cipher. Pozzo, man in his prime, before and after ruin overtakes him. And Didi and Gogo cling to each other in the penumbra of approaching (perhaps) mortality. But nobody grows, nobody learns. It’s all an endless loop.

    Point. Beat. Riposte.

    Repeat, ad nauseum.

    • This is the great scandal that prevents faith: nobody changes. Where is that transformation? Where is that abiding spirit of God?

      • Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

        You can ask Mr. Beckett when you meet him. But of course, you will both know the answer by then.

        The tree has leaves on it in Act II.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        It’s a very very mad world.

        Thanks to you both for keeping the conversation going. Will surely return when possible.

        For the moment, adieu!

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          More soon; 4th Commandment obligations call at present. But for now — Imelda/Sophia, nice insight about Beckett presenting three of the ‘Ages of Man’.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            Speaking of the Ages of Man: The program says Alan ‘Estragon’ Mandell is in his eighties! That he is still able to master the nuances of his role is remarkable. That he could commit to all the physical comedy is inspiring.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Imelda/Sophia, your observation that, in the play, ‘nobody grows, nobody learns’, makes Waiting for Godot sound a lot like Seinfeld, which followed a rule of ‘no hugging, no learning’ for nine seasons. Of course, Didi and Gogo do, at least, hug — for what it’s worth…. I do think divine revelation addresses the repeating ‘point, beat, ripost’ of history (writ large, or in biography) very well: The history and literature of Israel, and the life of Jesus Christ and the first generation of Christians, already state the main motifs that repeat themselves in every time and place and in every life.

      Mr Lickona, you’re right about the scandalousness of how seldom a supposed encounter with God changes people in the way it ought to. That problem is what makes the ‘No water for him!’ scene from Ben-Hur stand out in my memory more than any other scene — even the chariot race. It’s also, for me, one of the main sources of drama on Mad Men, and probably the easiest to relate to: Will these characters, and Don Draper especially, succeed in becoming better people? Or fall back into the same old ruts (so to speak)? And either way, because of what influences, and in spite of what influences?

      On a more formal level, I really enjoyed the repetition and variation of the play’s motifs and running gags. It creates its own set of inside jokes, and brings the audience inside those jokes by the start of Act II. All that riffing and mutation reminded me of the Korrektiv’s own jam-session/Petri-dish style.

      • Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

        Thought a bit more about the endless cycle. Surely you are right, Brother Angelico, in saying that this is the story of human existence and all of salvation history – fall, struggle, triumph, repeat.

        But to speak to Mr Lickona’s point about the scandal of persistent failure: Do not the saints testify to the truth of the encounter with the transcendent? Is it at all possible that even in each ultimate victory there is a microcosm of that cycle – that every soul in heaven played out this drama in a thousand little ways, day after day after psyche-crushing day, right up to the particular judgment?

        Perhaps the victory is, in part, about “keeping the appointment.” What if Godot came, and Vladimir and Estragon met him with an embrace?

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      This can’t be a brand-new, never-been-thought-of-before insight, but: What is it like for an actor to do rehearsal after rehearsal, and then performance after performance, of a play in which no one learns anything, and the main characters wait endlessly for a resolution that never comes? The situation of the characters may stand for all people, or many people. But it certainly applies to stage actors.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        SO you’re saying that Imelda Jean OP needs to write a play about two guys backstage during a rehearsal of Waiting for Godot? Maybe Waiting for the Show?

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          All I know is that the hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them — so, yes, she should at least consider it.

          And then think about writing a play about two guys backstage during a rehearsal of Waiting for the Show.

          Repeat ad infinitum.

          • Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

            This thread cries out for a tributary: Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.

            The Absurdists spent enough time batting these same ideas around like a shuttlecock for anyone now to improve upon them. Or so it seems to me.

            The pre-show backstage experience is indeed ripe territory for commentary, particularly if one’s part is limited to two lines in Act III.

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