I kept drifting back to the black velvet painting I'd been mesmerized by when I was a kid. My folks subjected us to a lot of super-cheap, tacky motels in the '70s; black velvet Elvis paintings were the norm for wall art.
Within the theatre, they are master British thespians, knighted for their contributions to the craft. Within fan culture, they have geek god status -- one as a Starfleet captain, the other as a fierce wizard and friend to Hobbits, both as powerful mutant leaders.
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.
In a memorable production of Chekhov's The Seagull, presented by the Antaeus Company, a marvelous ensemble of classical actors based in LA, director Andrew J. Traister captures the brilliance and realism of Chekhov's rendition of the plight of humanity.
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.