a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Billy Crudup’

Superb “Waiting for Godot” w/Ian McKellan & Patrick Stewart Blazes on Bway

Don’t miss the superb current revival of Samuel Beckett’s  “Waiting for Godot” starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart at the Cort Theater on Broadway. It is in rotating rep with a play by Harold Pinter “No Man’s Land” which seems tepid by comparison. The quartet of players, McKellan, Stewart and American actors Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, soar into theatrical heaven with “Godot,” a play I’ve never liked or understood. Until now.

In a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape, two hobos( or today’s parlance would dub them homeless people) we find Estragon (McKellan) utterly bedraggled and sometimes bootless and his companion, the ever-so-slightly more dapper Vladimir (Stewart) waiting for Godot. Who is some one or some thing they don’t know and never find out about. But they keep hoping they do. And they keep waiting and waiting and waiting. And that’s the plot.

McKellan and Stewart are at their absolute zenith of their combined talents, as they entertain us and each other mightily, while waiting for SOMEthing to happen. They have each other. And a tree with no leaves, and the tattered clothes on their backs, rags, really. Dusty, crusty. They’re frightening to look upon.

But you end up just loving them. Because they make you laugh. At the utter absurdity of everything.

That’s something that I never thought of “Godot” as, being a supremely entertaining comedy. It was just one laugh after the other, surprising and delighting the audience. As Vladimir and Estragon keep entertaining each other, as they wait and wait and quarrel and make up again and consider suicide and reject it and wait.

Finally something DOES happen in the scarifying persona of the outsized blow-hard Pozzo (Hensley) and his hideous, pathetic captive scarecrow Lucky( a nearly unrecognizable Crudup).

Vladimir and Estragon think that this ovewhelming personage MUST be Godot. But then decide he isn’t. He doesn’t know who they are and they don’t know who he is.

And Hensley is so revolting and despicable and hugely fat as Pozzo that the two bums become almost attractive by comparison.

And in the second Act things do change, but to reveal just how magnificently they’re embodied by this quartet of great actors, all four at the peak of their powers, in both plays would be to spoil a lot of the fun for the 1% of you that aren’t already familiar with “Godot.”

I now see for the first time ever through the combined artistry of these Four Horseman of the Apocalyptic(Theater) just WHY Samuel Beckett’s difficult, dense, infuriating play is the existential classic that it has always been considered. And it’s an anthem, a subtle anthem to hope.

“No Man’s Land” by Harold Pinter seems almost picayune by comparison.

A rich man Hirst (Stewart) encounters a less squalid ne’er-do-well, Spooner (McKellan) Less squalid as his Bum of Bums, Estragon in “Godot” on Hampstead Heath, a notorious gay pick-up ground. Was that what Pinter was implying by starting the play with this unexplained meeting? I wonder? In any case, Hirst brings Spooner home to his grand mansion of a house and it turns out that Spooner is a poet and then also so is Hirst, and that they actually knew each other at university. But Spooner didn’t like Hirst…and so it goes…a rather pallid reflection of “Godot” in certain thematic senses.

Crudup and Hensley are consigned to supporting enigmatic servant/thugs in “No Man’s Land” and we never quite find out why. Or who they really are.

At the end of “Godot” the entire audience was standing and cheering loudly with many curtain calls and “Bravos!” filling the air. That didn’t happen with “No Man’s Land.” So if you have to choose between the two choose “Godot.” It’s worth the wait.

Hail Stones & Heart Attacks at “Arcadia” on Bway!

Last night’s venture onto the Great White Way now that the Theater Season is starting to bloom, despite the sudden plunge back into wintry temperatures, was pretty eventful, and rather dwarfed the experience of the seeing the three hour PLUS “Arcadia.”

I’ve never experienced a hail storm IN MY LIFE! Especially on Broadway in mid-town Manhattan in the theater district! It was merely raining a bit at first but soon it turned into an all-out hail storm as New Yorkers were subjected to something REALLY new ~ being pelted with these tiny little balls of ice. I.E. Hail! I couldn’t believe it! And it kept up as I missed my bus stop and had to get off and walk back three blocks, being thoroughly pelted my these tiny little pellets. Bang! Bang! Bang! It must be what being shot at feels like.

And you couldn’t duck them. Of course, one could go inside and wait til it was over, but it didn’t seem like it was EVAH going to be over, it was so intense. It was like a down pour, except it was tiny, round, hard, and solid little balls coming down! And as they accumulated they finally started getting smushed under foot by the HOARDES of Spring-time theater-goers packing the narrow Broadway side streets all rushing to their appointed play or musical.

THEN, they took their bloody time OPENING THE DOORS to the Ethel Barrymore Theater, so the crowd crowding in under the overheard marquis(fortunately there was one) was PRETTY angry as they waited and waited and waited IN THE HALE until they finally got in!

THEN in the middle of the first act of Tom Stoppard’s VERY abstruse and difficult to follow play(at best), an elderly gentleman two rows ahead of me, seemed to being having a heart attack!

The woman he was with who was later identified as his daughter, ran out  from the absolute middle of Row K, which is smack dab in the middle of the Orchestra seats of the theater, edged her way disruptively out to the aisle and then ran out of the theater, something no one ever does. So I thought it was a bathroom emergency. Or she just hated the production(with good reason). I think it was in the middle of the impossible to understand ANYway scene about algebra, yes, algrebra, and iterated algorythms, whatever THEY are.

Then I was alarmed when she returned, and had an EMS guy with her in full regalia, with what I recognized as a heart attack pack, as they say.

THEN the lights came up and the spectral voice of the house manager, I assume, announced to the actors AND the audience “Actors on stage and members of the audience we have a medical emergency.” And another EMS guy or two came in and all of the now VERY disrupted Row K had to get up and leave their seats so they could haul this man who seemed at first slumped in his seat, then completely immobile. So much so that they had great difficulty extracting him from the center of the theater.

I remember Raul Esparza, who has been on my TV show several times, was onstage in the middle of a scene, and barefoot, being the actor who had the “Oh no!” look on his face, but he smiled and immediately left as did cast mate Lia Williams.

As an entire STRETCHER was moved into the aisle right before me(I had an aisle seat, so could see everything that was happening), I heard that the man was a critic. His review, I’m guessing was “Bored to Death.”

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