Godot at Coconut Grove
a Bloomsday Festival highlight
Recounting the disastrous first American production of Samuel Beckett’s iconic play
By Byron Toben
Playwright Colleen Curran, who has written over 20 plays, many produced across Canada and the USA, has a new clever one to be presented in a one-time performance as a highlight of the Festival Bloomsday Montréal, which runs from June 12 to 16.
Ms. Curran, whom I hereby dub the Neil Simon of NDG, has a penchant for writing snappy, witty dialogue, which often includes current events or fads.
I have seen dramatic readings, page in hand, of this script, titled Godot at Coconut Grove twice – once at The Redpath Museum and again at McGill’s Moyse Hall and can’t wait to view a full production.
It relates the first American production of Samuel Beckett’s iconic play at the unlikely location of Coconut Grove in Florida. The producers hoped to attract big time audiences by featuring Bert Lahr, famous for his role as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, as one of Beckett’s tramps, Estragon. Here is a clip of Lahr as the Cowardly Lion.
Much of the disaster of that venue was related by Lahr’s son, John, who later became the main theatre critic for The New Yorker.
When I saw the readings, which featured Alain Goulem, currently appearing in his own one-man show at the Fringe Festival, to tremendous effect as Lahr, it occurred to me that only one other local actor could adequately fill that role, namely Gordon Masten.
And lo and behold, Ms Curran has secured not only his services as such for this piece, but also as his stage wife, his real life wife, Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare alumna Jude Beny. Both presently teach at Dawson’s theatre program.
The jolly Ms Curran herself is also performing in the show, with Castelina Massudo and Jasmine Winter in other roles.
Beckett is known worldwide and I believe that this play, once produced for a local run, could attract international attention.
Attention Centaur and Segal theatres!
I really believe that this play is Curran’s chance to really hit the big time. Beckett is known worldwide and I believe that this play, once produced for a local run, could attract international attention.
Beckett himself, a man of few words, was once secretary to James Joyce, a man of many, many words – hence the connection to the Bloomsday festival. Here is a short film where Joyce and Beckett play golf.
Godot at Coconut Grove plays at Loyola Chapel, 7141 Sherbrooke W, on Wednesday June 13 at 7:30 pm.
Read also: Byron’s top Fringe picks sight unseen 2018
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.