Samuel Beckett's famed absurdist play Waiting for Godot at The Cort Theatre features stellar performances by acting veterans Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Two tramps—dotty Estragon (McKellen) with his bothersome boots, and thoughtful Vladimir (Stewart) with his scratchy bowler hat (and prostate troubles), meet by a bare willow tree and wait, and wait, and wait for the never-appearing Godot. Though unkempt and dressed in tatters, McKellen's animated Estragon is still charming and Stewart's straight man Vladimir hints at refinement.
The long-time friends pass the time joking, reminiscing, and philosophizing. The pair banter like an old couple - their chemistry and camaraderie is apparent and a joy to watch. Things get a bit uncomfortable when boisterous, whip-cracking Pozzo (Shuler Hensley) arrives with his slave Lucky (Billy Crudup). Pozzo's brutish treatment of the drooling Lucky is unnerving though the two provide a needed distraction for Estragon and Vladimir.
Beckett's challenging play raises more questions than it answers while the two leads search for the elusive—meaning, God(ot), death? The openendedness of the story can be frustrating for those who want closure, but the brilliant, often humorous, performances by McKellen and Stewart make the waiting more than worth it.
Waiting for Godot plays in repertory with Harold Pinter's No Man's Land until March 30th. Directed by Sean Mathias. More info here. Buy tickets here. Click here for a video of a recent interview with Ian McKellen at the WNYC studios.