Friday, November 13, 2015

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Sometimes seeing a mediocre production of a play can be surprisingly elucidating. For example, the Onomatopoeia Theatre Company's version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which is (definitely and unfortunately) mediocre, still manages to provide a fair amount of the humor and mystery of Tom Stoppard's classic work. The amazing, unbreakable spine of the piece shows through. On the other hand, this R&G lacks most of the piece's emotion, rarely going below the surface of this complex work.

The responsibility lies squarely in the lap of director and actor Thomas R. Gordon (who is also Onomatopoeia's artistic director). As a director, he relies too much on shtick and busyness with frenetic blocking, distracting bits for background characters, and awkward pacing. He allows his actors (or asks them for) amateurish arm-waving and face-making. His direction lacks depth. He also plays the pivotal role of The Player, but he lacks the style and charisma necessary to make the part work, leaving a large hole in the play's potential gestalt.

Jean Larson as Rosencrantz and Jocelyn Vammer as Guildenstern manage to give effective performances (although Vammer is a bit too fond of arm-waving and face-making). This is the third production of R&G I've seen with women in the lead roles (the other two productions had all-female casts), and the cross-gender casting works. I'm glad whenever women get good roles. Of the rest of the cast, Gregory Pike stands out as a Hamlet I'd like to see do Hamlet. He makes a surprisingly strong impression in a small role.

Wendy Caster
(first row, audience left, press ticket)


Unknown said...

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the production! And you are right, I still have a lot to learn, but thank you for coming to support live theatre!!


Unknown said...
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Wendy Caster said...

What a gracious comment! Thank you.