“Waiting for Godot,” Samuel Beckett's signature play, staged as part of a “Beckett on Film” series by Irish producers Michael Colgan and Alan Moloney. The 1953 absurdist play concerns two hapless tramps (Barry McGovern, Johnny Murphy) who are waiting for someone named Godot to appear. While they wait, they joke, quarrel and make up; complain about life; consider suicide; and wonder what will happen if the mysterious Godot ever does show up. It's “a parable for the human condition,” says host Jeremy Irons, “an emblematic story of mankind at the mercy of forces beyond its control.” Lucky: Stephen Brennan. Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed.
“Topdog Diaries” profiles playwright Suzan-Lori Parks as it follows her through the creative process of her Pulitzer-winning 2001 drama “Topdog/Underdog.” The outgoing Parks' first-person “diary” begins as she completes the two-character play in 1999, and ends with its Broadway opening in April 2002. In between are rehearsals at New York's Public Theater (where “Topdog” opened in July 2001), juxtaposed with comments by stars Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright; director George C. Wolfe; Parks' husband, blues musician Paul Oscher; and New York Times drama critic Ben Brantley.
“Beckett on Film.” Highlights of a project to film Samuel Beckett's 19 plays includes seven performed in their entirety (one---“Breath”---lasts 45 seconds). Jeremy Irons hosts the program and appears in “Ohio Impromptu” (1981) as two identical characters (“the intellect and the heart”), only one of whom speaks. Other actors include Harold Pinter and John Gielgud (in “Catastrophe,” directed by David Mamet); Anna Massey and Sian Phillips (“Come and Go”); and Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliet Stevenson (“Play,” directed by Anthony Minghella).
The Roundabout Theatre Company's 2001 revival of “The Women,” Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 comedy about marriage. Cynthia Nixon (Mary), Kristen Johnston (Sylvia) and Rue McClanahan (Countess De Lage) star. Crystal: Jennifer Tilly. Mrs. Morehead: Mary Louise Wilson. Miriam: Lynn Collins. Edith: Jennifer Coolidge. Little Mary: Hallie Kate Eisenberg. Nancy: Lisa Emery. Peggy: Amy Ryan. Jason Alexander hosts.
“Tantalus: Behind the Mask” charts the angst-ridden seven months of rehearsals for “Tantalus,” a 10-hour, 10-play Trojan War dramatic marathon at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Going in, director Peter Hall conceded that this production of playwright John Burton's epic cycle could have turned out to be a “most awful thing.” It didn't, but its success was hard-earned, as this fascinating “making of” documentary clearly shows. The chief casualty is the Hall-Burton friendship. The experience, says Hall, was “one that I wouldn't gladly relive.”
“Far East,” A.R. Gurney's drama about the complications (and limitations) facing a rich young Navy lieutenant (Michael Hayden) stationed in Japan in 1954. It happens that Lt. “Sparky” Watts (Hayden) has fallen in love with a Japanese woman (Miou). It's a given that Sparky's family in Milwaukee won't approve, and so it's unfortunate that his commanding officer's wife, Julia (Lisa Emery), went to college with his aunt. Complicating matters further: Julia is attracted to Sparky. Captain Anderson: Bill Smitrovich. Bob Munger: Connor Trinneer.
Anna Deavere Smith is a provocative chameleon in “Twilight: Los Angeles,” a panoramic one-woman dramatic exploration of the 1992 L.A. riots. Smith also conceived the production and interviewed the people she impersonates---some two dozen, who experienced the disorder in a variety of ways. Among them: former L.A. police chief Daryl Gates, black activists, a Beverly Hills real-estate agent, a Korean-American store clerk and one of the jurors who acquitted the police officers who beat Rodney King.
Nathan Lane and Jean Smart star in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” the classic Kaufman and Hart comedy about an acerbic radio commentator who recuperates from a fall at a staid Ohio home, where he creates bedlam. Banjo: Lewis J. Stadlen. Maggie: Harriet Harris. Beverly Carlton: Byron Jennings. Doctor: William Duell. Miss Preen: Mary Catherine Wright. Harriet Stanley: Ruby Holbrook. Bert: Hank Stratton. Mr. Stanley: Terry Beaver. Mrs. Stanley: Linda Stephens. Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson host.