Another CT review.
Review: ‘Rosencrantz' is complex but entertaining
TONY KISS • TKISS@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM • PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 22, 2009 12:15 AM
There are some shows that require total concentration while watching, and even then, it's difficult to grasp just what's going on. The absurdist comedy “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is like that, but it's well worth seeing, because of the superb acting in this cast. And as puzzling as it can be, there is a payoff.
Playwright Tom Stoppard has taken Shakespeare's “Hamlet” and given it a very odd twist, pulling two minor characters from the classic, putting them in the spotlight and dropping them into a weird “Twilight Zone” like setting. And there is no Rod Serling to step out from behind the curtain to explain what's going on.
So unless you've seen this one before, or really understand “Hamlet” or Stoppard, don't feel bad sitting there, scratching your head. It's not supposed to be easy.
Director Angie Flynn-McIver has assembled an amazing cast, fronted by two familiar faces: Hans Meyer as Rosencrantz and Willie Repoley as Guildenstern, loyal but mostly unimportant friends of Prince Hamlet (Chris Allison).
The two have been cast into an odd world that they don't understand and have no way of escaping. They while away the hours tossing coins or playing back-and-forth word games, trying to remember who they are and how they came to be there. Rosencrantz is more of a simpleton and Guildenstern poses as the more knowledgeable of the pair, but it's a sort of Laurel and Hardy set-up.
Through the course of the story, they meet a traveling band of actors led by The Player (Michael MacCauley), who comes in and out of their world but offers little help in sorting it out. Our boys sometimes find themselves where they belong — as characters in “Hamlet” — as the King and Queen (Joe Sturgeon and Lauren Fortuna) seek their help in understanding the madness of the Prince.
And so it goes. But there is a point in the show — as in its title — where it become obvious, even to non-Shakespeare readers, and to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves, what lies ahead. They are on a journey to which there is no good end and no escape.
There are two intermissions here, and while they are 10 minutes each, that lengthens this evening to just short of three hours. In the second intermission, the audience must leave the theater, so that a mighty set change can be made. We won't spoil the surprise, but it is worth it, although the second intermission found much of the sold-out crowd jammed into the lobby, hands in pockets, with others puffing their cigarettes outside the theater on Stage Lane, filling the air with an unpleasant smell.
As for the performances, Repoley gives a masterful turn as the smug Guildenstern, proving again why he is among the finest actors in Asheville. There's fine chemistry with Meyer, equally impressive as the more naïve Rosencrantz. It's a rare chance to see Meyer act, as he usually directs.
Coming close to stealing the show is MacCauley as The Player, who gets some great scenes. And it is good see Allison as Hamlet, sinking into madness, although he has less to do than the others.
24 February 2009
Another CT review.