Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot begins with a declaration of futility. Estragon, one of the play’s tramps, attempts to remove an intractable muddy boot and despairingly announces, “Nothing to be done.” This sense of existential desperation pervades the New Yiddish Rep production, performed in Yiddish with English supertitles. Director Ronit Muszkatblit’s version has to be one of the bleakest in recent memory. While the approach may not appeal to casual theatergoers, Beckett devotees will find much to savor.
Ninety-four years ago, the cast and producer of the Broadway production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance were jailed on grounds of obscenity. The jury trial that followed—a cause célèbre in New York State court—foreshadowed more protracted, better-remembered litigation regarding the merits of Ulysses by James Joyce and Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.