Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: Waiting is All the Rage

By Ed Malin

This March at The Brick, Theater of the Apes is presenting Zamboni Godot (written and directed by Ayun Halliday) in repertory with Lunchtime (written and directed by Greg Kotis). Both shows will definitely change your perspective on life.
I walked into Zamboni Godot tonight curious about how this fine team of women would adapt Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot into a meaningful show that is “100% Bechdel Test Approved!”  It seems that the source material is only supposed to be performed by men, and has some male-centered jokes.  Well, good thing for Theater of the Apes, our world is full of all the things you will find condensed into the 21 scenes of waiting which make up the play.  The author’s experience as a New York Neo-Futurist shines through in the snappy dialogue and bonding between Gogo (Marjorie Duffield) and Didi (Chris Lindsay-Abaire) and the chorus of women.
64 years after the premiere of Beckett’s play, life is full of time-saving devices.  Yet, Zamboni Godot shows that more and more often, with globalization and interconnectedness, waiting is the entire narrative.  If you go to the DMV and you don’t want to wait, will you go home or will you just keep waiting?  If you are stuck in traffic on the highway, can you even leave the line of waiting cars?
The show starts with Gogo and Didi watching the Zamboni machine retouch the surface of an ice skating rink.  They want to be the first to tear into the pristine ice, but the rest of the mob rush in before them.   In many other situations, Gogo and Didi are told (or believe) that the elusive Godot character will soon join them, but that doesn’t make the rest of the line for the Coney Island Cyclone willing to let him cut.  Maybe the hope that Godot will join them is what stops Gogo from hanging herself.  She carries noose around with her and takes it out when confronted with extremely agonizing wait times.  When Gogo and Didi go to a nightclub in hope of meeting DJ Godot, they see on the flyer that they would need to wait until sunrise.  Why does everything in the club scene happen so late?  Another irritation of modernity.
photo Sue Jaye Johnson
There’s more.  Gogo and Didi are staffing a polling center, but no one has come to vote (!)  Didi and Gogo are marooned on a desert island and a ship does not stop for them; what else is there to do but wait?  At the Louvre Museum, there is a huge line to see the Mona Lisa so Didi pinches someone to get her our of the way.  Waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square, or for a delayed airplane to take off when the seatbelts must remain fastened and they can only imagine Skymall shopping, or the time when they are trapped in quicksand and only waiting will allow for survival, these situations all have their challenges.  The most touching scene for me was when Didi was on her deathbed and Gogo took a break to buy a snack at the wrong moment.  Yet, there was still more to come, perhaps to remind us that our waiting may never end.
Congratulations to this fine show and to the Zamboner chorus: Laura Allen, Johanna Cox, Tiina Dohrmann, Angie Pflanz, Sandye Renz, Kate Ryan and Stephanie Summerville.  Marc Aubin’s set design skillfully creates so many rapidly-changeable scenarios, such as the Big Box Store where all the women push beautiful red chairs instead of shopping carts.  Morgan Zipf-Meister’s lighting helps show the loneliness of a moonlit crossroads and the superficial bliss of an annoying ashram.  I found the whole show to be as entertaining as it was compassionate.