By J.C. Casarez
Before a sold out audience at the Black Box Theater, the play “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead,” opened Friday night.
The Tom Stoppard play is presented by the Speech, Theatre Arts and Broadcasting Department and is directed by W. Colin McKay and David Laird Scott.
The play is based on characters from the Shakespeare classic “Hamlet.” It focuses on the travels and actions of the main characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Even if some of the audience wasn’t familiar with “Hamlet” or Shakespeare for that matter, the story is still easy to follow.
The story begins with the lead characters trying to remember and make sense of what they were instructed to do. Through a game of questions, they stumble upon half answers before recalling that it was on an order from Claudius the King of Denmark, portrayed by Adam Chacon, that they are to follow Hamlet and discover the cause of his reported lunacy.
It is a comedy that tells the story through the eyes of the duo that are at a lost and unaware of what their actual place is within the world of the “Hamlet” storyline. At times Guildenstern, portrayed by Maribella Magana, appears to be the intelligent one of the two by asking questions and taking direction of what the next move should be.
The carelessness of Rosencrantz, played by Peter Mendoza, completes the duo by just going with the flow and adding some physical comedy in spots. The interaction between the two characters is funny and entertaining considering that they are alone for most of the play.
The dialogue is strong enough to not only keep them talking but at the same time make them entertaining to the audience. The production staff does a good job of creating the mood and setting for each of the three acts of the play.
The second and last acts display this by the use of lighting and a hazer to create the appearance of nightfall and a boat scene. Costumes were also convincing and well done to match and identify the various characters. The play is about three hours long with 10-minute intermissions at the end of acts one and two.
The character’s performance that resonated the most with the audience was The Player, played by Sebastian Fernandez. Fernandez’s performance was very convincing as his character was a comedic traveling actor who led a traveling theater in search of not only a means of making money but also an audience that would validate their existence.
His role required not only eccentricity, but also some physical comedy which he delivered. Many people had to be turned away at Friday’s sold out show so those interested should purchase their tickets in advance. The play runs from March 16-25. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the box office or by visiting www.vendini.com.