When a crisis of celebrity angst begins, blame it on Bono’s belly.
In the play “Bono and The Edge Waiting for Godomino’s,” a satire of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” the famed U2 frontman and guitarist wait for a delivery person to bring a pizza to their castle. Their goal? To get back in touch with the Common Man, or Woman, because as well-fed superstars they’ve lost touch with their non-VIP selves.
In the award-winning play, onstage through May 26 at Write Act Repertory at The Brickhouse Theatre in North Hollywood, hungry Bono and The Edge take the place of Beckett’s hapless Estragon and Vladimir, the two hobo-like guys waiting for a nonexistent God figure.
Bono is eager to talk to the pizza deliverer, whom he hopes will surely have the “most fascinating things to say about living a real life.” The Edge, with only a Beckett-esque turnip and carrot tucked in his pocket, just wants to eat. But Bono insists they wait for the delivery person.
Curt Collier and Richard Lucas. Photo: Parry-Riposte Films.
Writer-director Richard Lucas, who plays Bono, could have picked any easy-target celebrity (pseudo or not) to make fun of, but instead chose Bono/The Edge of U2, whose celebrity is in some ways admirable because of the causes they advocate for — Bono in particular.
“If you go after celebrity culture, the first thing you think of is the Kardashians,” Lucas said. “But at least with Bono there seems to always be a purity in him even as he accumulates wealth, and I wonder if that creates a moral dilemma inside him.”
Using “Waiting for Godot” as the philosophical backdrop gives the play heft beyond humor. As in Beckett’s play, the dialogue goes back and forth between profound and silly.
The Edge: How long ago did you order it?
Bono: An hour ago? A lifetime ago? When can a man truly “order” everything he believes that he’s lost in his life?
Theatergoers are hungry for the play, too: “Waiting for Godomino’s” is now enjoying a third L.A.-area run at Write Act Repertory, located at The Brickhouse Theatre, 4 p.m. Saturdays through May 26.
The play premiered at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival, where it was nominated for best comedy and won an Encore Producers’ Award and TheTVolution.com Best Fringe Comedy Award. It ran for six weeks in the fall at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, and landed on TheTVolution.com’s Los Angeles Theatre Best of 2017 List.
Brian Knudson, a Hollywood Fringe Festival writer, actor and producer, has seen the play twice, both times enjoying and pondering its absurd premise.
“‘Godomino’s’ skewers celebrity culture through an existential lens,” he said. “By infusing elements of Beckett’s ‘Godot,’ a clever juxtaposition (and confrontation) of importance with meaninglessness is on full display.”
Knudson calls Lucas a “brilliant writer whose original satire translates to the stage perfectly.”
Lucas, an author, storyteller and comedian whose humorous memoir about living next door to a barking dog will be published next year by Chicago Review Press, said he came up with the idea for “Godomino’s” a few years ago when laughing with a friend over the idea that a celebrity could never go hungry.
“When do they ever have to wait for food?” he said. “Every meal is paid for. They show up at a fancy restaurant, and it’s on the house. I imagine their refrigerators at home are always full to capacity.”
But the play’s sure-fire funny premise goes beyond hunger to more layered questions about haves and have-nots, and celebrity culture vs., well, the-rest-of-us culture.
“There is a gigantic gap between what I know of a ‘real’ life, and what I imagine to be someone’s life when they become super-wealthy and super-famous, and all of their needs are attended to at every moment,” Lucas said. “I’m fascinated by the incremental steps: When does the person change, and do they realize they are changing? It must be very complex to be Bono, but I hope his connection with the common man these days lasts longer than the squeak of a Sharpie across an album cover.”
In a world where everyone’s personal needs and wants seem to be paramount, the play also explores the value of sacrifice.
Lucas, a musician who performs a few hilariously tweaked U2 songs on guitar during the play, said he has loved the band’s music from the beginning, and “like everybody else, sanctified ‘The Joshua Tree’ album.”
Bono, he said, “has always kind of been a God guy: open about his spirituality and religious roots.” Yet as the band members’ fame and bank accounts have swelled simultaneously, “that flies in the face of the sense of sacrifice, and the lack of selfishness, in most religious teachings,” Lucas said.
Through ventures that mix business with charity, Bono “has turned into a kind of social uber-capitalist who practices what some call ethical consumerism,” Lucas said. “He’s very committed to efforts that benefit humanity, but he also does things to be able to pay less taxes. A lot of celebrity culture is leading by leading, not leading by example. Should people have to practice everything they preach? No, we always need to have conversations about ideals and goals. But it depends on how much they preach.”
Within the absurdity of this Beckettesque world, Lucas frames The Edge, played by Curt Collier, as a child-like figure — innocent and a little goofy, but with a temper — in “Waiting for Godomino’s.” Among other things, he feels judged and chastised for his much-derided attempts to build mansions (yes, plural) on a hilltop in Malibu, a story that might be familiar to local audiences.
Lucas, crediting L.A. Times reporter Steve Lopez’s columns for spotlighting The Edge’s seaside property battles, said the guitarist’s real estate saga offers an example of the possible moral perils of massive wealth.
“The Edge wants to buy an actual mountain, a vista, a solid piece of nature, entirely changing a piece of the globe forever,” Lucas said.
“Godomino’s” doesn’t reserve its barbs for U2, however. It also tries to find the tipping point between necessity and indulgence in our modern society of ever-growing conveniences and luxuries.
Jeff Blumberg and Bruno Oliver. Photo: Parry-Riposte Films.
The play was developed from a short sketch featuring just Bono and The Edge. But when Lucas expanded the sketch into a full-fledged play after positive audience response, he added Domingo and Lucky, who parallel Pozzo and Lucky in “Waiting for Godot.”
Bruno Oliver plays Domingo, Bono’s wealthy, pompous neighbor. Jeff Blumberg is Domingo’s beleaguered, nearly mute personal assistant, the unlucky Lucky (Pozzo’s slave in Beckett’s play).
Domingo, costumed like the Monopoly man, is a ruthless businessman who delights in speechifying and insulting Lucky in the most cruel ways, all to impress Bono and The Edge so he can be on equal footing with them. His booming voice and philosophical musings, cynical as they are, make him an almost equal match to Bono: “If it is hope you are selling, I congratulate you,” he says. “There is no greater commodity.”
“Domingo represents wealthy people who have everything except ‘celebrity’ status, so that is what he envies — to be someone admired for their art,” Lucas said.
Personal assistant Lucky, who lugs around Domingo’s guitar case and rarely speaks, represents in part the abused working person who can be terminated at will.
That worker-employer relationship, which existed during the 1940s when Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot,” “is still true,” Lucas said. “But Beckett couldn’t have imagined the size of the 1 percent and the grasp they have on the planet, and the lionization of celebrity culture that has been happening in the last 10 to 20 years.”
“The midway entrance of Domingo and Lucky works brilliantly,” Knudson said. “Just as Domingo needs Lucky to fill his emptiness, our society needs celebrities to fill our own empty, unfulfilled lives. And to some degree, the reverse is also true.”
U2 will be in town in the middle of May for two concerts at The Forum on their Experience + Innocence Tour. Maybe they’ll find a way to make it to a performance of “Bono and The Edge Waiting for Godomino’s.”
Bring your Sharpies. “Bono and The Edge Waiting for Godomino’s” http://nohoartsdistrict.com/theatre/brick-house-theatre/1012-bono-and-the-edge-waiting-for-godomino-s WHEN:
Saturdays, through May 26
Write Act Repertory at The Brickhouse Theatre
10950 Peach Grove St.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
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