'Waiting for Godot' is an eternal mystery

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Sept. 22 2011 2:50 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY – “Waiting for Godot,” which runs through Sept. 24 in the Rose Wagner Black Box Theater, is the first production of The Sting & Honey Company, a recently formed professional theater company.

Samuel Beckett’s classic tragicomedy has been both puzzling and fascinating audiences and critics since its first performance in France in 1953. This production is no exception.

The acting on all counts is superb. The story is repetitious, fairly uneventful and on the surface seems to make no sense — the way some people might view life. Beckett was once quoted as saying the play was all about symbiosis.

Estragon (Javen Tanner) and Vladimir (David D’Agostini), two aging tramps, wait day after day for the arrival of Godot, someone they say they are acquainted with but have never met. As the two try to endure the waiting, the arrival of and brief interaction with Pozzo (Roger Dunbar) and his slave, Lucky (Cameron Deaver), is a welcome diversion. Evening finally descends, and a young boy (Cavin Huntsman) arrives with a message from Godot: he is not coming today, but surely he will come tomorrow.

The first act is heavy with waiting; the second has more energy and comic business.

Tanner and D’Agostini, both graduates of the BYU Theater Department and the Old Globe Theatre program in San Diego, ended up in New York at the same time and recently performed together in a successful Off-Broadway run of “Homer’s Odyssey.” Their training and experience, individually and as a team, is evident.

Dressed in Laurel and Hardy-style costumes designed by Tara Lynn Tanner, the two play off each other with perfect timing. Lines flow between them with well-rehearsed rhythmic ease. The interaction between Pozzo and Lucky is equally polished.

Action takes place upon a bare, raked stage painted in ruddy earth tones. A lone tree stands stark and nearly leafless upstage center; a red rock rests down stage left.

Lighting designed by Brandon Moss poetically creates the illusion of time passing.

Tanner, who is also the artistic director and one of the founders of The Sting & Honey Company, said he has been watching, reading, acting in, and directing Beckett’s plays for 16 years.

“I love Beckett,” he said.

His recommendation is to watch the play with a focus “on keeping an open heart, which always leads to a more open mind,” he said.

A Friday night audience member, John Weis, had never seen the play before.

“It’s about doing the same thing over and over with little hope,” Weis said. “We need to get out of our routines and do something different. The next time the wheels of my four-wheeler are spinning in the sand, I’ll think of ‘Waiting for Godot.’”

There are several references to Christ — his crucifixion and his saving power. There are also several references to bodily functions and a few mild swear words.

For ticket information and to learn more about this new theater company visit http://stingandhoney.org.

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street in Springville, Utah. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Visit her website is at www.dramaticdimensions.com.

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