Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 

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ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, Attic Playhouse. In this account of dirty doings in the Danish court, our guides are a pair of self-absorbed slackers who fritter away their time in philosophical who's-on-first games, oblivious to the intrigues surrounding them. Their attitude is contrasted with that of the traveling players' manager, who cheerfully accepts the risks inherent in a world where even the laws of syntax are pliable.

Tom Stoppard's brilliant manipulation of those laws requires little more than that the actors speak trippingly. Under the direction of F.W. Brent Bridgman, the Attic Playhouse cast delivers workmanlike performances, with Brad Archer and Christian Heep valiantly swapping sophistry, Geoff Isaac supplying plenty of razzle-dazzle as the lead player, and Kevin Wieter projecting lots of angst as Hamlet.

Cutesy anachronisms--the Star Wars anthem, a golf club among the players' props, a sailor reading the Cliffs Notes for Hamlet--along with a miscast actress in the role of Polonius, diminish this effort. The production also starts to run out of steam after the second hour, but Stoppard's theme of mortals striving to control their destinies in an indifferent universe still ennobles it. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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