The current Broadway revival at the Cort Theater of Waiting For Godot is never less than riveting. That's thanks to the extraordinary chemistry between Ian McKellen as Estragon and Patrick Stewart as a determined, upbeat Vladimir/Didi.
Whatever your reactions to any particular element (most everyone agrees Twelfth Night is the triumph for Rylance while opinion is divided on these two), it's safe to say these are "events" in the best sense of the word, nights of theater you want to see and judge for yourself.
The pairing of No Man's Land with Godot is a stroke of genius, bringing the two masters of comedic and enigmatic incomprehension, Pinter and Beckett, to the stage in alternating performances that underscore the affinity between them.
In busy spells -- which in the Broadway arena typically include the two weeks before Thanksgiving and the month before the various award deadlines in the spring -- it is not uncommon for critics and award nominators to find themselves at five or six a week. Eighteen in 16, though, is overdoing it.
It is a testament to the genius of Samuel Beckett that after 60 years, Waiting for Godot can still astonish with its cutting-edge brilliance, even in a low-key staging like the one Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are now starring in at the Cort Theatre.
Samuel Beckett wanted his plays done exactly as he wrote them and as he particularized them in his stage directions. Don't think of adding even a second tree, for instance, to the Waiting for Godot set.
There is something strangely appealing about a character that shrieks: "Have you no respect for misery?" Such a demand is vintage Samuel Beckett -- and at 59E59Theater, director Trevor Nunn is staging one of his most accessible works, the 1957 radio play All That Fall, to hypnotic effect.
It turns out that Rosset had reels of film stored under his kitchen sink, including rare audio of Beckett at production meetings and material relating to the unused first scene. So why is this important?
Good writers do not channel in from some higher plain, they are simply human creatures who have a talent for expression and a talent, as Noel Coward would have said, to amuse. Everything they write is an expression of their selfs.
Why do we assume classics are impenetrable and obsolete? Why do we imagine that an ecology that privileges "emerging artists" while all but abandoning mature ones, let alone historical ones, will have resonance in the long run?
Barney Rosset died last week at age 89, and for those who valued his contribution to upholding First Amendment rights in this country, his championing the works of artists, the event truly marks the end of an era.
You'd have thought that someone who seemed to spend most of his time looking for excuses not to paint, and who finished only about 15 paintings in his whole lifetime, might not be all that good at it. But you would, of course, be wrong.
One of the oddities of Beckett scholarship is that while so much attention has been lavished on him, there remain puzzling gaps in the record and a prickly reserve about discussing certain aspects of Beckett's personal life.