Sunday, September 7, 2014

Waiting for Godot (in Yiddish) ***

We should be grateful to Shane Baker for taking on the task of translating Beckett’s landmark tragicomedy to Yiddish and to New Yiddish Rep for bringing it to the Barrow Street Theatre.. Somehow the words spoken by Beckett’s characters Vladimir (Baker), Estragon (David Mandelbaum), Pozzo (Allen Lewis Rickman) and Lucky (Rafael Goldwaser) take on an added emotional weight when they are heard in Yiddish. It helps that all four actors are superb in their roles. Rickman and Goldwaser are so good that they almost steal the limelight from the two main characters. Despite his gray hair and balding pate, Baker has such a youthful face that he appears much younger than Mandelbaum. Lucky’s long soliloquy in the first act is absolutely mesmerizing. (There is a video of it out there. Google it). In a nice touch, Godot’s messenger is played by a young African-American boy with dreadlocks (Nicholas Jenkins) The simple set by George Xenos is effective. Moshe Yassur not only skillfully directed the play but designed the costumes. Even in this fine production the play’s second act never reaches the high level of the first. It is a play that I admire but will never wholeheartedly like. I’m glad to see it presented so well though. There are English supertitles. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including intermission.

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