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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

a Comedy
by Tom Stoppard

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 2567

SHOWING : May 09, 2008 - June 01, 2008



The hilarious inverted tale of Hamlet through the eyes of the two minor friends of the Dane. See what goes on in the bumbling world of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (or is it Guildenstern and Rosencrantz?) while the plot of Hamlet plays out in the background.

Director Jeff McKerley
Cast Jessica Fern Hunt
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


by Dayaniit
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead combines superb acting with an exceptionally witty script to present a fabulous show.

Be warned, the script itself is bawdy and explores some very adult themes… and we all know that the Shakespeare Tavern isn’t shy about “going with the flow” if that’s where the text is heading. This is not a show for your middle school kids or your very conservative Grandmama. It is, however, a great show to see if you and your friends want a night on the town worthy of a blog the next day. The cast is athletic, irreverent, energized and totally, thoroughly competent.

Fans of Tom Stoppard won’t be disappointed: this play is Stoppard all the way with its beautiful imagery, witty one-liners, incredible monologues, and a through-line of philosophical queries and suppositions that make the audience question things we take for granted – even being an audience. My only complaint to Mr. McKerley (director) is that the script ought to have been cut. Even though I was completely engaged and laughing my head off until the very end, it’s a long play. But that having been said, I can find little fault with anything else.

Nick Faircloth as Rosencrantz and Paul Hester as Guildenstern have all the chemistry, pathos, fervor, innocence, and hope that one could wish from these two characters. Andrew Houchins as the King makes the most of a small part, and uses his beautiful speaking voice to give the character dignity. Drew Reeves as the Player has the perfect forum in which to display what he does best: BIG emotion, vocal dexterity, and acrobatics indicative of an actor in total control of his body. While Reeves has sometimes been derided for his over-the-top emotion, in this case he does everything the character calls for and more. The tragedians, too, show a great sense of ensemble and comic timing. It was not until then end that I realized that most of them do not even have lines! They were so alive and engaging that it never occurred to me that it was all sans dialogue. Troy Willis as Polonius is delightful – a fey, brown-nosing old man with wild hair and an ingratiating walk. Thank you, Mr. Willis, for making interesting and imaginative choices instead of “phoning in” such a small role, as I have seen other actors do. Heidi Cline’s Queen Gertrude… well, it’s just a shame that such a fine actress was wasted with so little stage time. Yet she makes true the adage, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Jessica Hunt was adequate as Ophelia, though nothing to write home about. Yes, I know, Ophelia is the smallest part in the whole show; barely anything to her. Yet I can’t help but feel that a more experienced actress would have taken that as a challenge to do something truly unique or unexpected with her. Paul McClain as Hamlet is handsome, comic, resonant of voice, and sarcastic… just the way I imagine Stoppard intended his version of the icon to be. All in all, a wonderful cast.

Kudos, too, to McKerley and costume designer Anne Carole Butler for the lovely color scheme…. took me until the second act to get the joke, but even without that, the “rose” and “gold” tones shine very prettily on the Shakespeare Tavern’s wooden stage. And as always, Lorraine Lombardi “shines” as lighting designer.

On the whole, this is a wonderful, witty, lively production: an imperative for anyone wanting a night of both bawdy comedy and intellectual stimulation.



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