Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Photo: Gili Getz

Some forty years after its premiere, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead continues to amuse, perplex, and screw with the audience's mind. Sort of Hamlet-meets-Waiting for Godot, R&G ponders probability, reality, art, free will, and the meaning of life--or, at least, the meaning of the lives of two peripheral characters from Hamlet. Simpler and more streamlined than Stoppard's latest opuses (did Coast of Utopia really justify all those hours?), R&G nevertheless sets the tone for many later Stoppard plays with its brilliance, word play, and provoking of thoughts. The current production of R&G at the T. Shreiber Studio does full justice to the work, from Cat Parker's clear direction and clever use of the small theatre space to the top-notch cast led by Eric Percival as Rosencrantz and Julian Elfer as Guildenstern. Of particular note is the performance of the Player by Erik Jonsun, who brings a level of ruefulness, melancholy, and emotion that inflates a potentially one-dimensional character to full humanity. The show is nicely designed by George Allison (scenic designer), Karen Ledger (costumes), and Eric Cope (lighting). (However, using a ghost light through much of the first act, while effective symbolically, is distracting and actually painful to the audience.) Compliments too to whoever chose to include R&G-related trivia and quotes in the program. The T. Schreiber Studio was not previously on my radar, but from the quality of this production, I definitely plan to go back.


Anonymous said...

We came in from ut of town to see this play and it was well worth the trip. Eric Percival as Rosencrantz and Julian Elfer as Guildenstern team up so fluidly, complimenting and contrasting one another at just the right times, that the rhythm of this lengthy play moves you foraward as if time hadn't passed at all. Instead of being anxious to get up and stretch, I didn't want this play to end. It was directed by Cat Parker like a piece of music.

Anonymous said...

Note: the ghost light has been turned down, and is only on for a small portion of the first scene. Thanks for the tip!