"It's a record about looking for some kind of transcendence as well as trash."
-- Bono, on Pop
Bono And The Edge: Waiting For Godomino's Onstage In Hollywood
June 13, 2017
The scene should be familiar to U2 fans: standing around, conversation reduced to mind-numbing blather, waiting for … pizza delivery.
Oh, wait, that’s the GA line.
In Bono And The Edge Waiting For Godomino’s, onstage through June 24 as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the waiting-game scenario is reversed. (Note: U2 band members have indeed brought pizza to fans waiting in concert lines.)
In this smart spoof of celebrity culture, a parody of Irish writer Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, Bono and The Edge (taking the place of Estragon and Vladimir in Beckett’s play) are holed up in their castle, waiting for a pizza to be delivered.
“In the original, all the characters are wildly destitute and desperate,” said Richard Lucas, the show’s Bono, director and writer. “We flipped that. We have a veritable god on earth hoping to meet a Common Man."
Bono, agonizing over losing touch with common folk, is eager to talk to the pizza deliverer, who will surely have the “most fascinating things to say about living a real life.” Edge is just hungry.
Bono: When can a man truly order everything he feels he’s lost in his life? I don’t remember it because it’s lost. If I still had it, I would be able to remember it. I think it’s something inside. Something inside me. Something is gone. Something is empty.
Edge: I think your stomach is empty, and mine too …
The 55-minute play is hilarious, intelligent, perceptive and well-written, whether or not you’re a U2 fan, or have read/seen Waiting For Godot — although the experience is enriched considerably if you fall into one of those two categories. While slamming celebrities and their lifestyles, from overworked personal assistants to gated enclaves, the play also asks philosophical questions about the role, responsibilities and limitations of art and artists.
In order to enjoy this performance, you must have a sense of humor about U2; i.e., you can’t worship at the feet of the Reverend Bono, or get all huffy when someone makes fun of the free iTunes album, Edge’s proposed Malibu mansions, or the entire band’s business dealings. Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and Bono’s Central Park bike accident take hits, too.
But the play is not meant to bash Bono or U2.
Lucas is a fan of the band.
“I love U2, and love and respect Bono,” Lucas said in a phone interview a few days before the June 10 opening show. He’s seen U2 live four times, he said, and especially remembered a “beautiful and almost religious” Unforgettable Fire tour concert.
“I know that Bono is a good, good person at heart, and that he’s kind of a Christian guy,” Lucas said. “I don’t believe that’s left him, but I wonder about celebrity culture. I’m not saying you can’t be a good person if you’re wealthy, but at the same time, I wonder what’s it like to get rich.”
Why did he pick Bono and The Edge to satirize celebrity life?
“If you go after celebrity culture, the first thing you think of is the Kardashians,” Lucas said. “But what argument could they believably make? At least with Bono there’s a purity that he could genuinely and honestly express these things. I play with his ego a little bit, but he’s not a total egomaniac.”
Lucas manages to sort of look like Bono, with longish, slicked-back hair (but not from the mullet years), sunglasses and all-black outfit. He emphasizes that he’s not trying to be a Bono impersonator, and that the slight Irish accent he takes on is meant to be funny, not a real-life rendition.
Plus, he’s a real musician, and sings a few U2 songs and plays guitar during the show, including “With Or Without Out You” sung to the late Steve Jobs.
(Lucas has also performed acoustic solo versions of The Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree albums at other venues.)
Edge is often considered the brains of U2, but in this play, he’s more of a goofy, impatient kid. He’s not too sure about relating to common people, but will go along if it means he gets something to eat. He feels like he’s earned his wealth, and doesn’t want to be judged — by Bono, music critics, the people of Malibu, etc. Actor Curt Collier as Edge has some of the funniest lines.
Bruno Oliver plays Bono’s rich neighbor Domingo (a parallel to “Pozzo” in Waiting For Godot), and Jeff Blumberg is Domingo’s personal assistant Lucky (Pozzo’s slave in Beckett’s play).
All are super-talented actors — a reminder of all the great theater talent in L.A. that flies under the radar.
Godot references are peppered throughout the play, including boots (worn by Bono, of course), turnips and chicken bones. The set is sparse — a table and chair, a guitar and microphone, a piano, boxes and a painting.
About eight years ago, Lucas, a writer, storyteller, comedian and actor, came up with a seven-minute sketch about Bono ordering a pizza “a la Waiting For Godot.”
He and Collier performed the show a few times as a 12-minute sketch for Sacred Fools Theater’s “Serial Killers” program, in which audience members see a few unfinished scenes and vote on which one they want to see more of (the rest get “killed”). Waiting For Godomino’s survived, and Lucas and Collier came back the next week with an additional 12 minutes of material. They expanded the play for the Hollywood Fringe Festival production, adding the characters Domingo and Lucky.
Lucas said he re-read and watched videos of Waiting For Godot while writing the play — a process he found irritating.
“I love/hate the play. It’s so absurdist and hard trying to figure out which character is which, and what they’re talking about,” he said, laughing. “I do use the Beckett-esque absurdity, but I keep it within a parameter: the value of art financially and socially, and the limits of what art can and can’t do.”
Domingo (a name that fits with the Domino’s theme, and also happens to mean “lord”), is costumed like the Monopoly guy, and actor Oliver’s booming voice, elevated language and cynical businessman demeanor are perfect to counter Bono’s righteousness: “If it’s hope you’re selling, I congratulate you. There is no greater commodity.”
(Lucas hopes people who see the play will write a review or share their thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtags #hff17 and #Godominos. A search for “#Godominos” on Twitter, however, might make you wonder if Domingo is lurking somewhere, because in addition to references to the play, you’ll also see tweets that give a shout-out to Domino’s Pizza.)
Lucky rarely talks, but when he does, he recites U2 lyrics. And he has a brilliant two-minute monologue that strings together lyrics from both beloved and more obscure U2 songs: “Bad,” “New Year’s Day,” “Acrobat,” “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “In God’s Country,” “Zooropa,” “Lemon,” “The Playboy Mansion,” “If God Will Send His Angels,” “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways,” “Like A Song,” “Gloria,” “Rejoice,” “I Will Follow” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
In the play, Bono speaks what Lucas calls a “martyrdom monologue” about all the things he’s done for the world, an arguably hypocritical mingling of business and philanthropy efforts.
“We know he’s done a lot of good things,” Lucas said, “but he’s also done a lot of capitalistic things, like move his music company to the Netherlands from Ireland. I don’t want to criticize Bono, but some of what he’s done could be considered sort of greedy. Bono believes as I do that art can change the world. I want this argument out there, and I want U2 to make sure they’re challenging themselves when they put something out there.”
Lucas said he had a moment of panic when he first performed the show, worried that “people are going to hate it. Because I’m sort of saying a few not-so-good things about Bono before I get to the good stuff about Bono.”
I won’t share the ending, of course, but the play really does get to the good stuff about our favorite band and frontman. And I’m sure you can guess the song played at the end. #40
Three more performances of Bono And The Edge Waiting For Godomino’s are scheduled at the Sacred Fools Second Stage Theater, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood (near Vine): 9:30 p.m. Friday (June 16); 4:30 p.m. Sunday (June 18); and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24. For tickets, $15, visit www.hff17.com/4432. Bonus: The theater’s capacity is only about 80, so minimal or NO WAITING IN LINE, and portions of U2 songs are played before the show.
Top photo by Scott Golden
Additional photos courtesy FringeTV at the Hollywood Fringe Festival