The Theater: New Play in Manhattan, Apr. 30, 1956

Waiting for Godot, by 50-year-old Irish-born Samuel Beckett, who was once a sort of secretary to James Joyce, is one more of those writings that pose philosophic question marks with the emphasis of exclamation points. Like Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, Kafka's The Castle and Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, Waiting for Godot makes who's who—and sometimes what's what—a kind of guessing game.

So simple as to be almost nonexistent is Beckett's tale of two penniless, hapless, smelly tramps waiting, in a barren countryside, for a neighborhood personage named Godot. They chatter, gnaw carrots, tug at...

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