WAITING FOR GODOT
Riverbank Theatre Ensemble
Namba Performing Arts Space
47 S Oak, Ventura, CA
Playing thru April 9, 2016
Years before Bert & Ernie were bouncing around their Sesame Street apartment, long before Jay & Silent Bob started loitering in front of the Quik Stop selling weed, there was Vladimir and Estragon. These two wrote the book on hanging around, waiting for someone named Godot, occupying themselves and each other during the slow passage of time that is not unlike life itself.
Riverbank Theatre Ensemble’s new production of Samuel Beckett’s infamous, irreverent “Waiting for Godot” succeeds in showing audiences just how much can be done with so little. From a minimal set comprised of little more than a ladder, a couple saw horses and some wood planks, the duo and their two comical visitors make mountains out of the molehills they’ve been given.
The crucial ingredient in Beckett’s show is each actor’s physical dexterity and broad range of voice and facial expression to keep audiences interested. Nigel Chisholm (Vladimir) and Ron Feltner (Estragon) make the most of their space, their set, and each and every word. Everything is exaggerated, from stomping feet to Chisholm and Feltner’s seemingly rubber limbs. Rag-tag costumes and set pieces suggest that these two are workmen sent to do a job of some sort, but very little actual work is getting done around here. Instead, Vladimir and Estragon are content to twirl around their surroundings like a set of monkey bars, giving weight to the most nonsensical topic as if each might lead to a solution for world peace.
And what does one really need to endure for a lifetime, anyway? Little more than a place to be, and someone to be there with. OK, maybe something to eat, and even then these two turn that into a game. And when one suggests that they might go their separate ways, the audience is struck with remorse. The threat turns out to be an empty one because, after all, what would Bert be without Ernie or Jay without Bob?
And just when the wait seems tumultuous, in walks Pozzo (Byron Hays) with his traveling companion Lucky (Christopher T. Wood). Hays’ Pozzo is like a demented Richard Branson, barking orders in a German accent, espousing his theories on life. Lucky is initially a source of curiosity for Vladimir & Estragon, as he appears to be an enslaved deaf-mute. But when Lucky puts on his special hat, what spills forth is a stream of intellect not unlike the Scarecrow getting his diploma from the Wizard of Oz.
“Waiting for Godot” doesn’t require elaborate sets or broad production values. Good actors can make a whole lot of something out of nothing – and here, that something turns out to be a pretty good show.
Waiting for Godot
Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, 8pm
Thru April 9, 2016
Namba Performing Arts Space
47 S Oak St, Ventura, CA
Tickets: 805-628-9250 or online at: