|Jessica Delbridge and Allison Hirschlag|
(Photo: Eli Sands)
Panicked Productions has chosen to present R&G Are Dead with an all-female cast. Explains director Glenn De Kler, "There are tons of talented and funny ladies out there [and] they wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to sink their teeth into these great roles." The strong cast does indeed sink their teeth in, and their being women brings some interesting texture to the show. Although the characters are still referred to as male, there is a different meaning when a female Rosencrantz cries than when a male Rosencrantz cries. And the female Player's independence, command, and panache feel hard-won while a male Player can take these traits for granted.
More important than the cast's gender is their skills. Allison Hirschlag as Rosencrantz and Jessica Delbridge as Guildenstern are entertaining and touching. Whitney Kimball Long steals the show as The Player, as a good Player always does. The rest of the performers do well with multiple roles, and their acrobatics are great fun. I do wish the cast had been larger.
The show is well-directed by Glenn De Kler and movement director Chie Morita. De Kler and Morita make good use of the small space, using simple clever touches to provide visual variety and a sense of place; the scene at sea is so effective that I found myself swaying with the boat. In addition, virtually every line of dialogue is clear and comprehensible, something that one can no longer take for granted, as shown by the recent Arcadia on Broadway, where great swaths of dialogue went past like so much noise.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre only through July 29th. If you are a Stoppard fan in search of a solid, enjoyable production, get thee to 36th St.
(Press tix; first row.)