B&L = W4G + VW

Boesman and Lena = Waiting for Godot + Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Systems of oppression beget systems of oppression, even — or, perhaps, especially — among and between the oppressed. Though death (which Godot is commonly understood to represent in Beckett’s masterpiece) obviously looms over apartheid existence — metaphorically represented in Athol Fugard’s play by the crows circling overhead, awaiting their next meal like every other creature living claw to beak in this dramatic landscape’s unmerciful desert — Boesman and Lena, now being revived by the Signature Theatre, treats Godot as a symbol of freedom. Except Fugard’s Gogo and Didi aren’t waiting for it to come; they’re struggling to find a path towards it. We first see them wandering into the theatre, lost and searching, stuck in an Albee-esque struggle to claim dominion over something. If not a place, then — at the very least — their relationship.

Though Godot might not symbolize death here, Boesman and Lena’s poverty can feel like a slow death. Poverty’s a natural — but still unnaturally-inhumane — offshoot of oppression, as intrinsic to it as companionship is to humans. Given its ever-perpetuating legacy, are freedom and companionship compatible, or will companionship born out of oppression inherit too many of its destructive power structures? Can humanity escape Godot and Virginia Woolf’s endlessly — maybe even unbreakably — cyclical view of history repeating forevermore?

 

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