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Monday, June 22, 2015

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Folger

I have heard the name Aaron Posner mentioned in association with DC theater scenes several times, but only today saw his direction for this Folger production of Tom Stoppard's early but most famous play. It's indeed quite good, quite impressive. The comic timing was spot on and had the audience laughing all the way through, despite the play's length and the absurdist dialog. The casting was inspired and the two young lead actors had real chemistry.

Yes, it's known as an existentialist and absurdist play. It's about the unreal space occupied by minor characters between their sporadic appearances in the main characters' story. It's the meaninglessness and aimlessness of life, and the inevitability and pointlessness of death.

It's all very clever and meta. The production notes point out that it owes as much to Shakespeare (ie, the source in Hamlet) as to Waiting for Godot. I have not seen Waiting for Godot, but I cannot shake the feeling that all this was said by Shakespeare already, not only in "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns," but also "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death."

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