09/25/2013 11:47 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Waiting for Godot in Yiddish?

Oy vey is mir! Everything hurts but, thanks to a carrot and a hug, I'm still here. That kvetch could sum up Beckett's classic tragicomedy in any language. In Yiddish, as performed in a new superb production, a collaboration of the Yiddish Rep with the Castillo Theater starring Shane Baker, Avi Hoffman, David Mandelbaum, and Rafael Goldwaser, the human condition is pared down as only Beckett's universal sounds can render its absurdity--well, why not?
As is traditional in productions of Waiting for Godot, Gogo and Didi, the nicknames of Vladimir and Estragon, look like hobos, their bare threads torn as if they are in mourning. By contrast, whip-wielding Pozzo is royally garbed and full of himself. And oh, Lucky wearing his noose! With his pages-long speech in one-go: luck has little to do with the ironies of his condition.
In a stroke of genius, the travelers in stasis meet the boy at the crossroads of a pile of rubble and a tree, the role deftly delivered in Yiddish by African American nine-year old Nicholas Jenkins in dreds. His explanation as to why Godot will not be able to see them today universalizes the allegory of displacement further. When I asked the actor how hard it was to learn his lines, he replied, very.