‘Rozencrantz And Guildenstern’ Is Frivolous Fun – Kathy L. Greenberg, The Tampa Tribune, April 7th, 2008
Rene Magritte’s hatted man meets Laurel and Hardy in the Jobsite Theatre’s production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”
Tom Stoppard’s existential play is filled with more head-spinning rhetoric than a political convention. It needs a steady hand to ground it long enough for audiences to enjoy the frivolity, and Jobsite’s cast and crew did just that.
The play is a spin-off from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” at the end of which Hamlet’s friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are pronounced dead.
In “Hamlet,” King Claudius instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out what, other than the death of his father, is ailing his nephew. After the prince kills Polonius, Claudius sends Hamlet and his friends to England with a letter sanctioning his nephew’s death. Hamlet tampers with the note, so Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are executed instead.
Stoppard’s work supposes the unseen actions of Hamlet’s betrayers — the behind-the-scenes events that Shakespeare left to the audience’s imagination.
Director Katrina Stevenson gave the actors plenty of space to explore their characters in a controlled environment. It was a smart move.
David M. Jenkins fairly effervesced with delight portraying the naïve and bumbling Rosencrantz. He captured the oblivious innocence of a child playing with matches. At the same time, he also showed an impressive emotional range, especially when his character realizes the implacability of death.
Shawn Paonessa played Guildenstern closer to the vest. Somewhat reserved, he was both frustrated and frustrating as the perpetual analyst who never gets the answer. As with Jenkins, his sense of powerlessness was palpable.
Paul J. Potenza was outstanding as the Player. He commanded the stage with a dynamic performance. His strong acting set the bar for the whole production.
As the Danish prince, Matt Lunsford suggested potential for nailing the part in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” This was a welcome surprise. Though on stage briefly, he fully conveyed the character’s daunting complexity.
Stoppard’s play is fodder for a lot of over-thinking about life, death, identity, etcetera, etcetera. It’s easy enough to succumb to the same dark pitfalls as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Jobsite’s fine production balanced the scale in favor of a more-lighthearted outlook.
For those of you who are local that would, perhaps, like to coordinate outings to see the show with others I present the following list of those who I know are attending.
Tickets to this production are selling fast. If you want to see the show I strongly suggest you buy your tickets in advance and do not count on getting them at the door the day of the show. We had to turn folks away over the weekend.
Also – if you’re going out this weekend, stick around after to check out Short Comings for only 5 bucks more. I’m going to be staying around to do so on Friday.