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Published on May 11th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Made New

By John Farrell

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead is being given a new “old” look at Cal Rep.

Tom Stoppard’s skewed look at Shakespeare’s Hamlet, seen through the rather dim eyes of two very minor characters, Hamlet’s childhood friends Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, is a funny and entertaining look at the English languages favorite play as the two befuddled characters slowly realize that they are doomed by the play itself, doomed as minor characters set off to England to be killed. (Craig Anton is Rosencrantz, John Prosky is Guildenstern, and they make a charming comic team with their big differences in height and build.)

Director Thomas P. Cooke takes the play, now itself a classic, and mixes it with the best-known film version of Hamlet, the black and white version done by Laurence Olivier, for some hilarious effects. The play begins on the battlements of the castle where Hamlet sees his father’s ghost, with R and G getting mixed into the scene with smoke (and no mirrors.) Hamlet (Mark Piatelli) looks a lot like Olivier, and Ophelia (Anna Steers) is pretty much a ringer for Vivienne Lee.

Existential angst Rosencrantz and Guildenstern know, but they never quite figure out what is happening around them. They are caught up in the story, but it takes the Player (Robert Prior, speaking with a voice that is deliciously Shakespearean) to straighten the whole thing out.

Mixing the filmed scenes with the action makes the play at once intentionally artificial and more than a little unreal, an effective blend for this wonderful work.

Tickets are $20, $15 for students and seniors. Performances are Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m., Saturday May 12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m.

Details: (562) 985-5526, www.calrep.org
Venue: Queen’s Theatre on board R.M.S. Queen Mary
Location: 1126 Queen’s Highway, Long Beach

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