'Godot Has Left the Building': Still Waiting in a Wasteland, Revisited and Revamped By GEORGE HUNKA NYTimes.com Homepage: June 30, 2006 The 100th anniversary year of Samuel Beckett's birth continues apace, bringing with it the New York premiere of John Griffin's "Godot Has Left the Building," an explicit homage to Beckett's best-known play, in a production by David Friedman and FourScore Productions at the Culture Project's 45 Below theater. Forum: Theater
"Waiting for Godot" has been such an inescapable presence in postwar theater that one can be forgiven some trepidation at a modern-day salute. Fortunately Mr. Griffin's play manages in large part to defuse this trepidation. Godot's country road is here a junkyard filled with old computers, tape machines and a film-editing rack. Its Didi and Gogo are Sebastian, a bookish, philosophizing vagrant, and Joe, a well-dressed young executive who wakes one morning to find that everyone in the world has disappeared, except for himself and Sebastian.
Mr. Griffin certainly has the tone and dry, poignant humor of "Godot" well in his grasp. The dialogue is crisp and sharp, and his characters ring through the Godotian changes: they play games (including a most dysfunctional "20 Questions"), tell stories, share a pair of boots and even deliver disquisitions on meaning and being. The play falls short in its arid imitation of Beckett's admittedly inimitable lyricism. With the play having disposed of the idea of Godot, the friends have little center around which to structure their waiting.
Mr. Griffin is fortunate to have attracted an engaging cast. Scott David Nogi, as the scraggly, bearded Sebastian, possesses a peculiar, sometimes manic manner, and Edward Griffin, as Joe, accomplishes the character's shifts through confusion, anger, fear, vulnerability and despair with great precision. The two deliver Mr. Griffin's dialogue with an appropriate disciplined energy. Gabriel Gutierrez and Bert Gurin also impress in much smaller roles.
The director, Will Pomerantz, navigates the play through the wide and deep 45 Below space with imagination, aided immeasurably by Garin Marschall's set, a veritable cornucopia of wired and metal detritus. "Mr. Godot has come and gone," a character says late in the play, but his memory is still very much alive. "Godot Has Left the Building" continues through July 9 at the 45 Below theater at the Culture Project, 45 Bleecker Street, at Lafayette Street, East Village, (212) 352-3101.