March 28, 2012

Waiting For Godot

Here in San Francisco, where the men still comb their mustaches before taking visitors and the women never sit down, Stage 2 at SF Playhouse began showing Tides Theatre's (director Jennifer Welch) production of Waiting For Godot, one of the most revered plays from one of the most revered playwrights of the 20th century: Samuel Beckett. The production is incredible. The traditionally bleak and desolate setting was done up by Maryland-born San Francisco artist Richard Colman as a silver, vortex backdrop with a single striking, multi-hued pink tree as jagged interruption and an unnerving soundscape designed by Welch's husband Jon Bernson for accompaniment. Bernson, who has recorded as Ray's Vast Basement and Exray's, to name only two of the previous aliases I know best, also has a long history with composing for the stage. His last album under the former moniker, Starvation Under Orange Trees, had its nativity in a set of songs recorded to accompany Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Bernson's experience is most clear during playful and sometimes striking moments of synchronicity, like when co-star Keith Burkland playing Vladimir pulls his hat on and off to contemplate the void within, a distorted tone ringing out every time that his tattered bowler leaves his head . That's just one example of how the production uses sound and imagery to generate a uniquely coherent representation of the slightly less abstract descriptions in Beckett's original text.

Although it can't do the full experience justice, Bernson was kind enough to put together a short montage of sounds from the play.

If you're in San Francisco or the Bay Area, check out some more details of the performance here; it's running from March 15 to April 14.

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