FEATURE: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead But I Made It Home Alive

Justin McCombs and Billy Chace as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in CSC’s 2014 production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, February 15- March 9, directed by Jeremy Dubin. Performances are located at CSC’s Theatre , 719 Race Street in downtown Cincinnati. Tickets are $22-35 and are available online at cincyshakes.com or by calling the box office 513.381.2273. Photo by Rich Sofranko
Justin McCombs and Billy Chace as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in CSC’s 2014 production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, February 15- March 9, directed by Jeremy Dubin. Performances are located at CSC’s Theatre , 719 Race Street in downtown Cincinnati. Tickets are $22-35 and are available online at cincyshakes.com or by calling the box office 513.381.2273. Photo by Rich Sofranko

I’m brave . . . usually.  I grew up on a farm so it wasn’t uncommon for the roads to be pretty bad in a snowstorm.  You just learned how to handle your vehicle and took your time and made it where you needed to be.  A lot of times you just stayed put.

But I had a complimentary ticket to ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD and a responsibility to you, faithful readers, to cover Cincinnati Shakespeare’s opening night.  So, I braved the downtown streets, walked three blocks on slippery sidewalks, and made my way to the theatre.

There were lots of empty seats at this sold out performance because there were people less hearty than me who decided to stay home.  The curtain speech was delivered, the lights came up, and the show began.  By the way, why don’t Billy Chace and Justin McCombs have their own television program yet? It could be something like if “Laurel and Hardy” met the Impractical Jokers.  It’d be a huge hit, I’m telling you!  They are hilarious and even though I often have a hard time following, understanding, and connecting to shows written in this style, I was enchanted by their comedic rapport with one another and the audience.

Soon, however, the first intermission came and I looked outside and so cars slipping and sliding on Race Street.  I thought about my 25 minute drive home that would probably take twice that in this weather.  I remember I didn’t have AAA because I forgot to renew it and got a new car for Christmas and didn’t think I’d need it.  And I got anxious.

So, I weighed my options.  Stay for the next two acts, be worried the whole time about the drive home, and not pay attention to the show with the focus it deserves . . . or bail now.  So I left.  I guess I’m not as brave and hearty I as thought.

It took me about 45 minutes to get home.  I-74 was covered in snow.  Abandoned cars were off to the side and I slipped a couple of times but not too bad (thanks to traction control and the new car . . . and my momma!).  The first thing I did when I got home was google ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD to find out what happened. Of course, because I saw HAMLET, I sorta knew, but still I wanted to know more.

R&GProd4
The Players in CSC’s 2014 production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, February 15- March 9, directed by Jeremy Dubin. Performances are located at CSC’s Theatre , 719 Race Street in downtown Cincinnati. Tickets are $22-35 and are available online at cincyshakes.com or by calling the box office 513.381.2273. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Wikipedia says the play is an “absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy.”  Way too meta for me.  The article goes on to say “The action of Stoppard’s play takes place mainly “in the wings” of Shakespeare’s, with brief appearances of major characters from Hamlet who enact fragments of the original’s scenes. Between these episodes the two protagonists voice their confusion at the progress of events of which—occurring onstage without them in Hamlet—they have no direct knowledge.”

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are portrayed as two clowns or fools in a world that is beyond their understanding; they cannot identify any reliable feature or the significance in words or events.”  This sounds like me when I’m watching most classic Shakespeare.  However, because of the incredible talent and skill of the company of Cincinnati Shakespeare, I’m developing my love for the classics.  It feels like I’m learning to speak a new language as I embrace these early plays and I’m grateful to CSC for bringing them to us.

Next up is Henry IV Part 1 & 2.  CincyShakes.com says, “After usurping the throne from King Richard II, King Henry finds he has inherited a country in chaos. Rebellions abound, lines are being drawn and one false step could plunge the country into civil war. To make matters worse, his son Hal (now heir to the throne) has forsaken his duties at court and taken up with a band of brigands under the charge of that notorious drunkard and pot-bellied prankster, Sir John Falstaff. Don’t miss the exciting second installment of CSC’s history cycle, as Shakespeare’s game of thrones continues.”  Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips said this was “the funniest history play ever.” Something tells me it will be a hit as Cincinnati Shakespeare continues to crank out the classics and does so with finesse and style.

On February 26th, I hope to live blog the season announcement party beginning around 5 PM.  Stay tuned to the blog for more details on this and click here get your tickets now for ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD before they are completely sold out.  You can also buy a season subscription to Season 21 at a discount before the titles are announced by clicking here.

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD runs through March 9th.  Directed by Jeremy Dubin.  Written by Tom Stoppard.  

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