WAITING FOR GODOT -- At the Terrace Theater through Sunday.

Since it first opened in America 25 years ago, "Waiting for Godot" has been cordially hated by those who think it a faulty puzzle without a solution and warmly cherished by those who appreciate its small poetic truths.

"Why do we wait?" is the question, not "Who is Godot?" to the two characters waiting for someone who never arrives. At the conclusion of each act, in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, where The Acting Company is doing "Godot" this week under Alan Schneider's direction, you can hear dozens of members of the audience humorously re-enacting the curtain line by saying to each other,"Let's go," and then remaining immobile.

They'll find that these lines refuse to budge from the mind. This "Godot" fan has, for two decades, been unable to watch how people who are confronted with dilemmas pounce delightedly on any suggestion of forming a committee, seeking further information or tabling the motion -- without hearing the triumphant "Godot" solution: "Let's not do anything. It's safer."

Other permanently lodged lines include:

"There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet."

"The tears of the world are a constant quantitiy. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh."

"That passed the time." It would have passed in any case."

"To have lived is not enough for them." "They have to talk about it."

"Let us persevere in what we have resolved, before we forget."

And the exchange:

"I wouldn't have let them beat you." "You couldn't have stopped you from doing whatever it was you were doing." "I wasn't doing anything." "Then why did they beat you?"

The catch to such long enjoyment of these words is that they must be heard in the voices of Bert Lahr, E.G. Marshall, Kurt Kasnar and Alvin Epstein, the original American cast. It hardly seems fair to fault Richard S. Iglewski, Richard Howard, Keith David and Paul Walker for not equaling those actors, let alone for developing their own interpretations of the parts.

But Schneider, who left the earlier production over a disagreement about Lahr's dominance, has not allowed this production to take on the marvelously vaudevillian spirit of that. As a result the more intellectual satirical character of Vladimir predominates over the emotional one of Estragon, and the tragic part of what Beckett labeled a "tragi-comedy" overweighs the comic. t

It is a good production of a superb play, but not a memorable one.