Monthly Archives: May 2018

Waiting for Godot: A Play

Waitng for Godot

Waiting for Godot is a play that has haunted me over the years.  I first read it in college some years ago and there were times in my life when I too felt like I was waiting for Godot.  When I heard that the Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago was staging it, I felt that I had to see it.  I cannot ever recall hearing about its staging so I immediately bought a ticket.  And even more ideally, it was being shown in the day during the week. That made this enterprise that much more appealing.

Going to Navy Pier on the weekend is a feat in itself and certainly at this time of the year.  So a weekday trip to this busy landmark sounded like a win-win invitation.  The gods were on my side because the day proved to be bright, sunny and dry, a rare gem for the city of Chicago.  Everything fell into place and parking proved to be a breeze to match the picturesque day.

People in the audience were talking and I heard one gentleman say that Samuel Beckett, the playwright, was born in Ireland and later moved to Paris, France.  However, he kept a dual citizenship and Paris was where Waiting for Godot was first staged.  To add to the flavor of the day, the actors were from the Druid Theatre Company out of Dublin, Ireland. Their witticisms and Irish brogues helped set the tone for the play.

I re-read Godot the prior week to refresh my memory and possibly see why I never forgot this play.  It is basically about two men who are waiting by a tree for this mysterious Mr. Godot.  They think that he can save them from their uneventful lives but he never shows up.

I thought of the many times that I thought some other person could bail me out or fix some problem, only to be disappointed. Over and over, I learned that I had to paddle my own canoe.  Or, I discovered that my demigod was in worse shape than I was and could never deliver the goods anyway.

I digress.  In the play, Estragon (Gogo) and Vladimir are two homeless men in tattered clothes.  Their friendship is about all that they have to sustain them.  They contemplate suicide often as they see themselves as insignificant people.  Even a boy messenger who tells them that Mr. Godot is not coming does not remember meeting them from the day before when he came to deliver the same message.

They pass the time to lighten the day and the actors from the Druid Theatre Company chose to act out a few playful antics to add laughter to the otherwise pathos.  At times, they reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy duo as they used various shenanigans to entertain us.

Two other men, Pozzo and Lucky enter the scene by the tree and they bring their own brand of excitement.  Lucky is led by a long rope and is being whipped by Pozzo who is arrogant, abusive and self-righteous.  He is quite proud and thinks rather highly of himself and says that they are trespassing on his property.  He has a few perks like a cigar, meat and a special stool which indicate that he is a wealthy man.

Lucky, on the other hand, shockingly raises his head, after putting on his hat and delivers a long, somewhat nonsensical discourse on mankind. He represents a man who probably was once brilliant but has allowed life to beat him down into servitude.  His level of degradation even shocks Estragon and Vladimir.  They feel that they can at least stand upright and see that they are indeed quite dignified compared to Lucky.

Yet, the next day, these same two characters stumble into their area again and the high-minded Pozzo is now blind and unable to stand without assistance.  He has fallen as low as Lucky and it all happened so quickly which fits the old adage, “Up today, down tomorrow.”

The play ends with Estragon and Vladimir still waiting for Godot.   They vow to bring a rope to hang themselves but they doubt that the small tree can even support them. They continue to wait for Godot to save them or plan to find a way to end it all.

Though I looked up others’ analyses of the play, here is what I think Beckett was saying to us all.  It speaks volumes about the condition of man. Today, we still see those who feel as if their lives don’t matter and have lost all hope; those who sneer down their noses at others only to need their help in a short time and those who have been beaten down so low that they rarely lift their heads to enjoy the sun.  Yet, we know that it can all change rather quickly just as the new leaves appeared overnight on the tree.

As we left the theatre, we mentioned the difference in how the Americans and Irish pronounce Godot- the illusive Godot. This timeless play is a great conversation piece. I am happy to have had the opportunity to see it staged by a group of fine actors.  It was simply astounding on all levels!

Lynn M.                                                                   May 26, 2018

 

 

Advertisements

The Life of the Party: A Movie Review

Mother and Daughter

The Life of the Party starring Melissa McCarthy was a little wild and even a tad risqué but enjoyable.  In the movie, Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) returns to college to finish out her last year some twenty years after leaving to get married.  Her husband abruptly asks for a divorce and she is blindsided.  But after brooding, she decides to join her daughter on the campus of her alma mater.

Her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) isn’t thrilled with the idea but after she gives her mom a makeover, Deanna begins to blend in and even becomes a valued part of the younger set.  Through a host of adventures such as partying, drinking, joining a sorority and even making out with a fraternity brother, she soon forgets her woes as she moves ahead to complete her Archaeology degree.

There were quite a few laughs and there were even some great scenes of revenge when Deanna encounters her ex-husband and his intended.  It was a good way to escape into another world and as I was driving home and reflecting on the movie, it dawned on me that there were quite a few similarities to my own life.

At the end of the film, I recalled that my mother and I had also attended college together.  She was a senior and I was a freshman.  I used to say, “Hi, Ma,” in the hallway.  And later, we taught on two of the same college campuses and marched as faculty together.

So, when Deanna and daughter were clothed in their graduation regalia, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to have had such an amazing experience.   During this month of honoring our mothers, I pause and recall the lines from a famous gospel song that say, “Precious memories.  Oh how they linger!”

Lynn M.                                                                                May 19, 2018

In A Gilded Cage: A Book Review

Gilded Cage

Rhy Bowen’s In A Gilded Cage caught my eye on the library shelf because of the  woman’s fashionable dress on the cover.  I checked it out and after reading the first few lines, I knew that I was in for a treat.  It was written in first person and that immediately drew me in as I listened to what Molly Murphy had to share with me.

It takes place in New York in 1918 during the women’s suffrage movement and Molly’s tone was light and amusing.  I packed my bags and traveled back into this historical era when women were standing up for the right to vote.

Molly Murphy has her own small detective agency and she is asked to join her neighbors Sid and Gus on a walk in the Easter Parade.  But the Vassar graduates have a secret mission and they plan to wear banners for Women’s Right to Vote across their dresses.

Needless to say, this does not go over well with the police and all of the women are arrested.  Molly, though from Ireland, has the chance to meet many of the prominent women who all attended Vassar College.  Thus, she meets Fanny and Emily who both become the main focus of the story.

The women are surprised to know that Molly Murphy is indeed a detective and her affiliation with the police captain helps them get out of jail without spending a night.  Daniel is Molly’s intended and helps her on several occasions.

Both Fanny and Emily hire Molly Murphy for private reasons.  Fanny suspects her husband of cheating in a long-standing affair and Emily is not sure of her parentage and possible inheritance.  Her uncle is less than honest yet quite wealthy while she struggles to make ends meet while working for a pharmacist.

Then, the tide changes when three of the Vassar women die a similar and mysterious death.  It seems like  influenza but there are other odd symptoms like hair loss and vomiting.

Who wants these society women dead?  What are the ties that bind?  Why are they a threat?  As Molly tirelessly works to get to the heart of the matters, Emily is spared though Fanny is not as fortunate. They Molly and Daniel put their heads together and act as a dynamic duel. The shocking murderer is revealed.

As in life, there are many twists and turns along with false leads but as the saying goes, “There are no secrets in the Book of Life.”  Read In a Gilded Cage and be reminded that all that glitters is truly not gold!

Lynn M.                                                         May 12, 2018

Fresh May!

May-basin

Oh, the beauty of fresh May,
Smells of newness, we all say.

Ah! At last we surely know,
Warm spring breezes make us glow.

Endured winter’s frosty crust,
Now propelled forth with a thrust.

Into this calming, green May,
Planting smiles throughout the day!

Lynn M.                                                                            May 12, 2018

Soft Landings

cushionsHave you ever felt as if you were a juggler as you tried to manage all of the pins being shoved your way? If so, you understand why the jugglers don’t take their eyes off of the pins because one wrong move can cause the whole game to come crashing down!

Life is like that as you try to keep it together or keep on keeping on.  It is comparable to watching a dog jump through hoops or a skilled track and field sprinter clear those hurdles in a timely manner.

But if there is huge slip-up, it’s just like an opponent in a chess game calling out “Checkmate.” You then know that the game is over. There is no other recourse other than to simply start  over, if given the chance.

There is a children’s story called Anansi the Spider and Anansi was prone to trouble; yet, his six sons often saved him.  Each son used his unique gift to successfully rescue their father as the brothers worked as a team.

On one occasion, they had to save Anansi from a huge falcon. After Anansi was freed from the mouth of the bird, he fell towards the ground.  His youngest son, Cushion, then positioned himself so that his father landed on his back.  Cushion offered a buffer and and helped his father have a proverbial soft landing.

So, the next time that you find yourself in the middle of running a challenging race, remember that in the end, the most you can hope for is a smooth landing. Later, when you have time to reflect and let out a big sigh of relief, you can lean on the words of Shakespeare.  He wrote, “All’s well that ends well!”

Lynn M.                                                            May 5, 2018