Samuel Beckett's classic "Waiting for Godot" continues to be the most contemporary of plays. Source Theatre has mounted an all-female production, which opened recently, a modest effort that neither illuminates nor obliterates the play's provocative bafflement.
The idea of casting women in these parts, which were written for males who are more genderless than masculine, is not a bad idea. The roles of Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo and Lucky are sought after by male actors and there is no reason why women shouldn't get a crack at them. But in this case the change seems pointless; the women are playing men, or rather playing at being men, and so it becomes a case of cross-dressing rather than a new interpretation augmented by some aspect of female sensibility.
The primary actors seem slightly uncomfortable, trying to define their characters within the confines of Beckett's elliptical lines rather than creating people from whom the speech seems natural. These are inhabitants of a nonplace, a roadside rest stop under a dead tree, having come from some other place and going on, perhaps, to another. Estragon and Vladimir are modern migrants, waiting for a Godot who will somehow validate their existence. In the meantime, they are passive, waiting, incapable of anything more assertive than an opinion.
They encounter Pozzo, who hauls a captive Lucky at the end of a rope, a slave seemingly without will or sense. Estragon and Vladimir are outraged but are soon merely curious about their fellow human's bondage. At the end a boy arrives with a message that the elusive Godot will surely come tomorrow, and having been assured by the young messenger that Godot "sees" them, are content.
This company finds neither the humor nor the terrible sadness of this play; it is a respectful but fairly perfunctory performance. It seems a good example of the necessity for a theatrical concept to be more than a casting gimmick.
Waiting for Godot. By Samuel Beckett, directed and designed by Phil Setren, lighting by V. Hana Sellers, costumes by Susan Davis, with Prudence Barry, Beverly Brigham Bowman, Ann Content, Christi Engel and Morgan Dickson. At the Warehouse Rep through Oct. 5.