This stellar revival of Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic Waiting for Godot makes it a fresh, new experience. Director Michael Arabian has shrewdly mined the play's comedic potential without diminishing fidelity to the playwright's bleak, despairing vision. His effort is accentuated by John Iacovelli's circular set that's surrounded by menacing rocks, with the dead scrap of a tree planted off-center, and Brian Gale's eerie lighting and projection design. And who could ask for a finer pairing of Vladimir and Estragon, the woeful tramps doomed to forever await the arrival of the enigmatic Godot, than Beckett aficionados Barry McGovern and Alan Mandell, whose performances are as sophisticated and polished as they are heartbreakingly funny. The emotional chemistry between them is palpable and reverberates through the whole production, creating pathos of its own. The rest of the cast is equally impressive. James Cromwell is equal parts carnie barker and cruel taskmaster as Pozzo, the bullying, pompous tyrant who interrupts the tramps' pointless vigil with his wretched, bent-over slave Lucky (Hugo Armstrong) bound by a long rope and weighed down with luggage. L.J. Benet rounds out the cast as the enigmatic boy messenger. This is a Godot not to be missed.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Starts: March 21. Continues through April 22, 2012