“Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.” And so goes the breakthrough play by Samuel Beckett that opened in Paris in 1953. Two old vaudevillians in bowler hats and moth-eaten suits sojourn on the side of the road awaiting a man who never comes. They pass the time hurling insults, jokes and quips, rooted with the anticipation of an arrival that will never be. Think Groundhog Day with pragmatic influences.
“Waiting for Godot” opens tonight at the Aloha Theatre in Kainaliu and runs through June 29.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said director Jerry Tracy. “It’s in the vain of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, but with a more absurdist angle to it. We’re billing it as a comedy — some people call it an existential tragic comedy. I think it’s more accurately defined as an absurdist comedy. It’s often been said that it’s the most interesting play written about nothing.”
The cast of four men and a boy includes veteran actor Rich Mears, who is a founding member of the Alohahas, the Aloha Performing Arts Company-affiliated improvisational comedy group. Mears plays the character Estragon.
“Estragon is kind of confused by life,” said Mears. I’m a homeless man along with my partner Vladimir, who is played by Marshall Gluskin, and the two of us are in essence waiting for this person Godot to come. We spend most of the play looking for ways to amuse ourselves while waiting for him. I play this character that looks for ways to find the fun and humor in everything that we do.”
Mears describes the play as akin to a “Seinfeld” episode where nothing really happens. “This is sort of an out of the box play,” said Mears. “Jerry Tracy, the artistic director, has done an immense amount of work to squeeze out every ounce of humor from every line in that play. It’s very funny and we have worked very hard to make it so.”
Pozzo, played by Matt Mohi, is a whip-wielding tyrant who dominates his inferior, Lucky, played by Victor Pisauro.
“Pozzo is Italian for crazy,” said Mohi. “My character is a bigger than life individual who perceives he has a lot more than he actually does. I think he’s borderline nuts or disassociated from reality, or maybe he’s just borderline sane — I haven’t decided yet. Pozzo is the example of what happens to someone when they get held captive by their material possessions.”
Pisauro, who plays Lucky, describes his character as a slave who lives at the end of a hangman’s noose. “He has the freedom of not having to decide what to do,” said Pisauro. The other characters struggle with what we consider ordinary decisions, but Lucky has someone telling him what to do, so he doesn’t have that same sort of angst.”
“Waiting for Godot” has been interpreted many ways over the years and Pisauro believes it’s still open to interpretation. “I see the play as a dig toward religious zealots,” said Pisauro. “I think a lot of people assume that Godot represents God and the characters are waiting for God who never shows up for them. And I think that’s probably symbolically accurate.”
The play has been interpreted as a reflection of humankind’s inexhaustible search for the meaning of life. According to the cast, the play is directed in a way that allows the audience to relax and take a journey with the play’s characters. The actors all describe the play as funny, touching and profound.
“It’s also about human beings search for meaning and trying to hang onto hope in the face of adversity,” Tracy said. “It’s a classic piece of theater and a wonderful work of art. Our particular production is a lot of fun with a lot of quirky musical and lighting additions. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy and it’s also moving.”
“How much of our life is waiting for things to happen?” Mohi said. “How much of life is expecting what’s to come rather than just enjoying what actually is? The show is going to be thought provoking and really entertaining.”
The cast also includes Marshall Gluskin and Vincent Hicks. The crew includes Tracy, director; Melissa Atwood, assistant director; Tracey Fosso, producer and lighting operator; Pisauro, producer and set designer; Kerry Matsumoto, stage manager and props; Becca Hamar, costumes; Juanita Finkenberg, movement adviser; Gerald Lucena, set artist; boB Gage, lighting designer; Miguel Montez, sound; Paula Cornwell, house manager; Toni Reynolds, house manager sub; Normetta Muir, concessions manager; Suzanne Murdock,operations director; and Gill Pecceu, technical director.
APAC’s production runs at the Aloha Theatre in Kainaliu from today through June 29, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Admission is $20 general admission, $17 for senior citizens and young adults, and $10 for children younger than 18. Tickets are available at alohatheatre.com, at the box office beginning one hour prior to curtain time, or by phone during weekday office hours at 322-9924.