Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (T. Schreiber Studio)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Gili Getz

Two minor characters playing a small, albeit important part in the story of Hamlet - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. We know them as schoolmates of Hamlet, somewhat interchangeable courtiers, and spies brought to court by Hamlet's uncle Claudius. Tom Stoppard brings them front and center in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and while it's easy to describe the play as the story of Hamlet as told from the point of view of these two minor characters, it is so much more than that. Stoppard's play is a meditation on the nature of life and each person's place in it. Is there a purpose to our daily struggle? Are we merely minor players whose lives are guided by others? Or is it all chance, with no rhyme or reason?

Eric Percival (Rosencrantz) and Julian Elfer (Guildenstern) make a winning team as the bemused courtiers. Percival's Rosencrantz seem constantly bewildered as he tries to comprehend the situation he finds himself in. Elfer's Guildenstern wants to make sense of what is happening around him, but finds himself unable to do so. Rounding out the major players is Erik Jonsun, who does a terrific turn as The Player, the leader of the band of tragedians who will eventually perform "The Murder of Gonzago" for Claudius and the court - the play wherein Hamlet catches the conscience of the king. While the rest of the cast does an excellent job, the play truly crackles when Jonsun's Player is involved.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead features strong direction by Cat Parker, who makes great use of George Allison's elegantly understated set. Played in the round, Parker utilizes the entire space, often surrounding the audience with players, effectively incorporating them into the production.

Other production elements are well done, including Eric Cope's lighting design, Andy Cohen's sound, and especially Karen Ledger's excellent costume design.

T. Schreiber Studio once again does what it does best - producing outstanding performances of challenging and entertaining plays.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Cat Parker
Scenic Designer: George Allison
Costume Designer: Karen Ledger
Lighting Designer: Eric Cope
Sounds Designer: Andy Cohen
Dialect/Vocal Coach: Page Clements
Fight Choreographer: Michael Hagins
Technical Director: Mark Chieda
Dramaturge/Assistant Director: Cristina Lundy
Stage Manager: Michael Denis
Production Coordinator: Barbara Kielhofer
Production Assistant: Oliver Sterlacci
Publicist: Lanie Zipoy

Featuring: Eric Percival (Rosencrantz), Julian Elfer (Guildenstern), Erik Jonsun (The Player), Tim Weinert (Hamlet), Doug Williford (Claudius), Tootie Larios (Gertrude), Marguerite Forrest (Ophelia), Tom Lawson, Jr. (Polonius), Esteban Benito (Tragedian), Meghan Brown (Tragedian), Horacio Lazo (Tragedian), James O'Brien (Tragedian), Janine L. Pangburn (Tragedian), Diane Terrusa (Tragedian), Aki Tsuchimoto (Tragedian), Therese Tucker (Tragedian), Rodney Allen Umble (Tragedian)

T. Schreiber Studio
151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor

October 15 - November 22, 2009
Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM
Sunday matinees at 3 PM

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