It’s striking how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a resume must-have for performance artists despite the story platform only appealing to a small scale audience that prefer a chatty tale of ‘incidents’ with ‘no sustained action.’ That’s because playwright Tom Stoppard’s genius is for compounding absurdist comedy not to mention taking his sweet time getting nowhere in particular.
A play that defines theatrical greatness, ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ has a narrative contour for acquired tastes. Ted Dykstra (left) and Jodan Pettle (right) prove that one doesn’t need to be familiar with ‘Hamlet’ to enjoy the production but it certainly helps if you do.
To this point, his wit filled adaption of Shakespeare’s Hamlet relies on two lesser known characters (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) to wade into some highly amusing existentialist territory. Director Joseph Ziegler knows how to juggle rhetoric deep within a tragicomedy by way of an extremely minimalist script.
‘Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean when is it going to end?’ asks Ted Dykstra’s delightfully dim Rosencrantz that is never shy to state the obvious especially when it comes to the inevitability of death.
Jordan Pettle’s perpetually ponderous and philosophically funny Guildenstern is always on the look out for fuller answers to the bigger questions when 92 consecutive coin tosses push the boundaries of probability.
For two lost souls that can’t find their bearing or sensible escape route, the cerebral compass points in every direction and never remaining constant for long.
‘Life is a gamble of terrible odds. If it was a bet, you wouldn’t take it,” asserts the always spectacular Kenneth Welsh as The Player. It’s these kinds of pseudo-intellectual ramblings that have positioned the story as a bona fide cult classic over the years.
The quest for identity and purpose is a road less travelled for the stage. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’s take-it-or-leave-it story intersection doesn’t pledge an emotional awakening but you’ll have to admit the Soulpepper presentation is earnestly entertaining as you stop and look both ways before crossing.
Review by Steven Berketo
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
By Tom Stoppard
Feb. 7 – Mar. 2, 2013
Young Centre for the Performing Arts
55 Tank House Lane, Toronto
Tickets $22.00 – $68.00
Ted Dykstra, Jordan Pettle
Kenneth Welsh, Diego Matamoros,
William Webster, Oliver Dennis
Kenneth Welsh, Gregory Prest
Peyson Rock, Paolo Santalucia
Leah Doz, Nancy Palk
Daniel Williston and Tim Ziegler