Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Waiting for Godot
Shakespeare Theatre Company / Druid
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of "Master Harold" ... and the Boys

Marty Rea and Aaron Monaghan
Photo by Matthew Thompson
Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company is hosting a polished production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot by Druid, a noted theater company from Galway, Ireland, in its Lansburgh Theatre. While the performance is well acted and as intriguing (and frustrating) as any production of this 1956 landmark, it lacks the spark that could make it more.

The play has attracted some notable performers over the years: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart headed the cast on Broadway in 2014, and Steve Martin and Robin Williams did a famous Off-Broadway production in 1988. For that reason, perhaps, while director Garry Hynes shows great sensitivity with her actors, Marty Rea's and Aaron Monaghan's closely observed performances come across as rather workmanlike.

Vladimir, or "Didi" (Rea), is tall and thin, Estragon, or "Gogo" (Monaghan), is shorter and stockier, but otherwise they look much alike, with similar facial features and beards. If they aren't two sides of the same personality, they still come across as two halves who may wander apart but can't exist independently of each other. Beckett has placed them in an existential landscape, doomed to spend each day waiting for the mysterious Godot—here pronounced "God-oh"—and otherwise killing time.

As the hours pass, Didi and Gogo try to remember what happened the day before and years earlier. They tell jokes, they contemplate suicide, they ponder their inconsequential lives and their inability to comprehend what's going on. The only breaks in their day come from the intrusions of Pozzo (Rory Nolan), a pompous fellow whose every pronouncement is filled with self-importance, and his slave Lucky (Garrett Lombard), who either doesn't speak or, on Pozzo's order, overflows with words.

Francis O'Connor's scenic design is a rough jewel: a cracked floor suggesting a dirt path during a drought, a scraggly tree, a large rock, and a neutral background, framed in luminous white. O'Connor also designed the costumes, which look as if the actors truly have lived in them, and James F. Ingalls and Greg Clarke have created all-encompassing lighting and sound that bring the viewer inside the scene.

Shakespeare Theatre Company
Waiting for Godot
The Druid production
April 17th - May 20th, 2018
By Samuel Beckett
Lucky: Garrett Lombard
Estragon: Aaron Monaghan
Pozzo: Rory Nolan
Vladimir: Marty Rea
Boy: Malcolm Fuller or Harrison Wright
Directed by Garry Hynes
Harman Center for the Arts, Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-547-1122 or 877-487-8849 or