Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Richard says: “Samuel Beckett’s infamous, highly influential Waiting for Godot is among the most well-regarded (and infuriating) tragicomedies of the 20th century. The plot, such as it is, is a trifle: two men are waiting for Godot. Why, for how long they have been waiting, where this occurs, etc. all tend to be open for interpretation; there is precious little information given about Vladimir and Estragon, their circumstances, or much anything else. Instead, the narrative (such as it is) unfolds in the protagonists’—are they protagonists?—conversations and the play’s exploration of the absurd and existential.
Waiting for Godot is rightly identified with two popular, post-World War I literary and philosophical movements: absurdism and existentialism. If not the original ‘show about nothing’—there are surely earlier examples, although I can’t think of any offhand—then it at least captures a certain feeling of time and place, which is to say a vacuum. Most of the action takes place in strange dialogues and pronouncements, many of which will ring true to devotees of this genre. In a review, theater critic Vivian Mercier once famously said ‘nothing happens, twice.’ If this description sounds dull or tedious, then you might want to skip this one; however, anyone with a taste for philosophy, wordplay, and biting humor will likely find Waiting for Godot a great read—or viewing. My advice? Read the play before seeking out any productions. The last time I saw this performed, more than half of the audience walked out after the first act. The main complaint? ‘Nothing happens. I get it.’ That may be, but that’s why Waiting for Godot so effective.”
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