Since then clowns and mimes have been my least favorite of entertainers. So perhaps I was not the best critic to determine to review the play by Romanian playwright Matei Visniec’s production at Los Angeles’ Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. Yet I love Visniec’s major theatrical influences, Beckett, Ionesco, and Pinter—the playwright who now lives in France even did his own version of Beckett’s most famed play, Visniec’s titled The Last Godot—and I love film director Federico Fellini, whose movie The Clowns initiated the Romanian playwright’s Angajare de Clovn (Old Clown Wanted).
Unfortunately, in the long space of their own wait for “Godot”—the simple opening of the door by a producer who might offer one of them the opportunity of, as Beckett is fond of saying, “going on,” there isn’t much to do. And despite Visniec’s love of the great Irish-French playwright, he doesn’t have the linguistic chops to significantly explore their existential position. Their memories are thin, as they exaggerate, forget, and reenact their past lives and mutual involvements. Mostly, they compare their different circus companies and their daring dos. It’s certainly not very scintillating and at moments is rather boring—at least until Peppino shows up.
When they give up, she quickly comes back to life claiming that her “silent act” is far superior to their buffoonery, since she has been more believable. When they react with slapsticks and rubber hammers, besieging her behind a slight curtain, it appears that they really have killed her, and they back off, distraught, terrified by their own violent behavior. This time, they briefly pray over and cover her body before escaping into the night—or, in this case, the afternoon.