Director Andrew Traister's traditional staging of Samuel Beckett's masterwork has all the technical elements of a scintillating rendition the repartee between Estragon and Vladimir (the thoroughly accomplished Joel Swetow and Robertson Dean) is swift and comical yet with studied interludes of silent agony that texture the comedy with the profoundest existential depths at least, in the musicality. Mitchell Edmonds' pompous Pozzo struts with his slave, Lucky (Mark Bramhall), with the embodiment of solipsistic insensitivity. They're a quartet of clowns incapable of taking the simplest action to lift themselves, or each other, out of the swamp of life, as aging and death close in on them so inexorably. For all that, this is more of a recitation of the play than an enactment of it, like the staging of a radio play. It's as though the company's first aim is to hit their marks, aurally and physically, in order to satisfy the play's veneer. The cost of that is a production that delivers that veneer with only the vaguest signs of a deeper feeling of the characters for each other. Beckett's theatrical poem comes off as more impressive than moving an unfulfilled use of the obvious talents at work here, since this play can be, at its heart, a deeply felt lament in the guise of comedy. A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; in rep thru Jan. 25. (818) 240-0910.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 17, 2 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 18, 2 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 25, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 15. Continues through Jan. 25, 2009