Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Broadway Theater Review: Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land

In a Year Marked by Classics 'in Rep,' Audiences Get a Chance to See Some Good Actors in Very Diverse Plays
By Lauren Yarger
I really am not a fan of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, so when another Broadway revival was announced just years after one starring Nathan Lane, it seemed a little too soon to me.

After all, how many times in a decade do we really need to see this odd play which can be mind-numbing at worst and confusing at best -- so much so that people can't even agree on how its title is pronounced (is it GOD - oh, or Gud-OH? -- lately the consensus is with the former.

The answer to the question is, at least one more time. Whether this play is your favorite, or whether you have yet to suffer through -- I mean enjoy -- it, make this production the one you see. The performances here, directed by Sean Mathias, are so good that they make even this existential drivel -- I mean play -- watchable.

The four-star ensemble consists of Billy Crudup (Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia), Shuler Hensley (who blew us out of our seats last year in The Whale at Playwrights Horizons), Shakespearean actor and Oscar nominee Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, known to "Star Trek" fans everywhere as Captain Picard (but he's a good stage actor too and has a "Sir" in front of his name from Queen Elizabeth to prove it.)

These skillful actors make unlikable characters likable, nonsensical dialogue understandable and a dreary play almost enjoyable. McKellen is truly amazing.

They have a little less luck with the second play they perform in rep, No Man's Land by Harold Pinter, however. I'm not a fan of Pinter either, so the prospect of a doubleheader of his limbo piece with Beckett's "interpret-it-as-you-will" purgatory was almost enough to make me consider turning in my reviewing credentials.....

The second play doesn't have enough of a parameter to allow the actors to make it their own. The most interesting things about it for me was seeing Patrick Stewart with hair.

So forgive me readers, if I wimp out on doing a formal review for these shows. They are what they are. You either want to see Captain Picard, or one or both of these plays, or you don't. If you happen upon them unawares, you'll enjoy some great acting craft. Beyond that, I'm going to let you google the plays, or break out your Sparks notes to decide whether you want to see them. I think you can already tell whether I like the plays themselves and I don't like to be snarky when reviewing.....

No Man's Land plays through March 29 and Waiting for Godot through March 30 at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th St., NYC. http://www.twoplaysinrep.com/.

Christians might also like to know:
No Man's Land -- Lord's name taken in vain and Language
Waiting for Godot -- Sexual Dialogue, Language,

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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