Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, Nov 27, 2008

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead 
By Tom Stoppard, PMD Productions
Where and When: Chapel off Chapel, Nov 27 to Dec 13, 2008
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 27, 2008

Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, cunningly peers into the private world of Rosencrantz (Miranda McGee) and Guildenstern (Luke Lennox), characters from Hamlet who are off-stage for the majority of Shakespeare’s play.

Stoppard investigates the off-stage world of Shakespeare’s two thinly drawn characters and immerses them in a comical existential dilemma. They do not know where they came from, why they are there or how to fill their time while awaiting instructions.

The pair is intermittently interrupted by the real action of Hamlet. The Prince himself greets them, the Players entertain them and the King and Queen consult them. The rest of the time they play a coin toss game that defeats probability by always turning up heads.

The play is a black comedy. We know Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are hanged at the end of Hamlet but in Stoppard’s play they are plagued by foreboding and suspect their own fate. They are confused not only about their role but are even unsure which of them is Rosencrantz and which Guildenstern.

McGee and Lennox, directed by Paul Knox, are an entertaining double act as playful clowns struggling to understand the darker machinations of their world. The other actors are less effective performing the excerpts from Hamlet that require a complete understanding of Shakespeare’s language, character and narrative.

By Kate Herbert

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