by Thomas Durkin
Samuel Beckett’s tour de force, Waiting for Godot, has been a theatre staple since its first production over fifty years ago. With such history, tackling this play can be a risky endeavor, but it was one the Boulevard Theatre was willing to take. And while some directors have shifted the focus with their own flair and artistic interpretation, director David Oswald and his acting ensemble nail this play by allowing Beckett’s economical, repetitive words to generate the laughter and inspire thought. This seemingly simple play points towards Beckett’s view that “habit and routine are the cancer of time.” The play centers upon two tramps who await the arrival of the mysterious Godot. While the two tramps, Vladimir (Michael Kane) and Estragon (Howard Goldstein), who refer to themselves as Didi and Gogo, have no idea who Godot is, they continue to wait because they fear missing his arrival. While waiting, Pozzo (Jason Powell) and his slave, Lucky (Jake Blomquist), pass through. Blomquist provides one of the many humorous moments of the performance with both his movements and his words. The Boy (J.T. Backes) arrives at the end of both days to inform Vladimir and Estragon that Godot will not arrive that day, but will surely arrive tomorrow. At one point, Vladimir comes to the realization “there’s nothing we can do.” The two tramps are resigned to resume their wait. The simple set, with a barren tree and a stone slab, demands that the actors stay on their toes because the focus is clearly on them. Couple that with the intimate setting — the audience and actors practically share the stage — and there is almost instant interaction. Perhaps most impressive about the Boulevard Theatre experience is the friendliness of the staff and ambience within the venue. Granted, you may hear the occasional siren or loud conversation from outside, but this is truly a worthwhile theatre experience. Waiting for Godot runs through March 7. The Boulevard Theatre is located at 2252 S. Kinnickinnic (414/744-5757; phone first as there are only 40 seats). The Boulevard Theatre is looking for new talent, stage managers, designers, dependable office interns, and volunteers. Find out more about current and upcoming performances by visiting www.boulevardtheatre.com.