They’re not waiting for the war to end, or for a new immigration bill to pass or for prices at the gas pumps to go down. Those famous tramps are just waiting for Godot. Devoid of political overtones and admirably resisting the imposition of any specific interpretation or “meaning,” Curious Theatre Branch’s straightforward yet rewarding staging of the existential classic achieves something truly remarkable: it makes you feel like you might be encountering Samuel Beckett’s seminal drama for the very first time. Indeed, with its minimalist design (a clean black box with simple scenery), “presentational” quality (a curtain straight out of vaudeville literally “opens” and “closes” each act) and poignant lead performances, director Stefan Brün’s production is neither too comic nor too tragic, and intellectually content to remain ambiguously open-ended. In terms of tone and theatricality, it’s a respectable addition to the innumerable worldwide stagings currently honoring the late playwright’s birthday centenary and remains accessible enough to potentially convert a new generation of playgoers into Godotistas, as enthusiastically coined by legendary critic Kenneth Tynan more than fifty years ago upon its English-language premiere. In the roles of Estragon and Vladimir, real-life father and son Beau and Colm O’Reilly, respectively, bring great commitment and compassion to their double-act, emphasizing a heartbreaking, hand-holding dependency while highlighting the physical and temperamental differences of their characters with gestural gusto and verbal nuance. The second and third generation members of the theatrical O’Reilly acting dynasty also add a touching dimension to the play’s darker circularity by suggesting a shared history and familial bond that has helped their Gogo and Didi survive the tedious repetition, cruel waiting and emotional immobility of Beckett’s barren wasteland. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Prop Thtr, 3502-04 N. Elston, (773)267-6660. Fri-Sat 7pm/Sun 3pm. $15 or “pay what you can.” Through June 4.