Endgame in Vermont

Toby makes the prospect of being a stereotypical out-of-work New York actor kind of O.K. It's an ingenious play about two old friends, both named Toby, who find themselves in a never-ending production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot that is being financed by a wealthy and conspicuously absent producer. "You'd think the backwoods of Vermont would have gotten its fill of Waiting for Godot after four months," complains the short, round, angry Toby Donally. "But no. We're still ticking." To which the taller, lankier, mellower Toby McDonell replies, "Maybe they just appreciate good theater up here."

McDonell's optimism could hardly be farther from the truth. The audience, never robust and fewer than 10 a night, has begun to trickle in, and both Tobys wonder when this gig will end its run.

Though not strictly existentialist, the premise is a comically bleak one that seems to have no end in sight. When seven Alzheimer's patients attend a matinee, two of them fall asleep, and one has the gall to die during Donally's monologue. "Seven audience members come in," he gripes. "Six leave. That's got to be some kind of record or something."

Playwright Anthony P. Pennino has a knack for dialogue that does not seem forced, even though the situation borders on the absurd. We believe that the Tobys, who have been friends since they met during "orientation week [their] freshman year at college," find women to sleep with by systematically making their way through the town's small phone book.

Timothy J. Cox and Phillip Bettencourt play off each other with ease and grace, and at their best moments they remind us of the tag-team duos

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