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What plays were best suited to home viewing at the height of America’s murderous pandemic? At first I hungered for the fizzing diversion of high comedy, but it turned out that what I really needed was deeply serious fare—though the play I most longed to see split the difference, a baggy-pants comedy about the meaninglessness of life that is one of the 20th century’s greatest works of theatrical art. Yet for more than a year, no one seemed to have thought to webcast a staging of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” ideal though it was to the occasion, not only because of its subject matter but because it calls for only a small cast (four men and a boy) and the simplest of sets (a tree by a lonely country road).
So is it too late for “Godot”? That’d be like saying it’s too late for “Macbeth” or “The Iceman Cometh.” There is no time when such masterpieces do not speak resoundingly to all that is within and around us. But the New Group’s webcast version, directed by Scott Elliott, has surely missed its moment, if it ever had one: Not only does it feel pandemic-specific in a way that is already dated, but it simply isn’t very good. With the sole exception of an eight-minute star-turn monologue by Wallace Shawn, it’s draggily paced, portentous and—worst of all—not even slightly funny….
* * *Read the whole thing here.