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.