EVER wished for a "Behind the Music" version of Hamlet? Ever wondered who the heck were some of those characters lurking in corners at Elsinore Castle?
Wonder no more as director Valerie Lavelle and a highly recognizable Savannah cast bring to stage Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
Though the title gives away the show’s ending, one truly must experience the journey of these two luckless lads to really grasp the hopelessness of their situation. First off, aside from a few very fleeting philosophical epiphanies, these guys are not the brightest crayons in the box.
The two childhood friends of Hamlet are ordered by the new Danish king to watch the prince to figure out what his plans are. Hamlet manages throughout the play to outmaneuver them at every turn, ultimately leading to their demise. They take things in stride, though, and in the end realize they’d been caught in this net without any hope of escape from the very beginning.
“This is an actor’s dream show,” explains Lavelle. “There are so many components, tragedy, comedy, Shakespeare, slapstick, there’s something for everyone.”
The off-the-cuff comedy is certainly in tune with Cardinal Rep’s aesthetic. This growing Savannah troupe has been known for such shows as The Pillowman, Catch 22, and The Rocky Horror Show.
Ryan McCurdy, starring as the Player, describes the theatre as one where “common courtesy is mandatory, and while there may be disagreement over content, there’s never an argument over the quality of the work produced here.”
Chris Heady, charged with the task of Guildenstern, explains why he loves being part of the Cardinal Rep experience, saying,” This group is like a family, and to be able to portray such a broad, fleshed-out character in so positive an environment is wonderful.”
Cardinal Rep is experienced in making a little go a long way without sacrificing the end product. Extravagant sets and costumes are a far second in line to superior acting.
“We could honestly do this show without sound or sets,” says Lavelle, “and people would still enjoy it because it’s a timeless play.”
That idea of timelessness gives the show a flexibility to make it current. “This play being presented in a nowhere time and place leaves a wide range of motivations to draw from,” explains Chris Soucy, who plays Rosencrantz. “It lets us find different levels that best serve the new context of the play beyond the original intentions.”
Even though this is a play about ‘minor characters,’ don’t come expecting a minor story.
“I love the idea of examining a character when they’re not onstage,” says Soucy. “Some characters are insignificant, but they exist nonetheless. It’s like seeing what they feel and comprehend beyond their lines and stage directions.”
Beyond their lines, though, our duo simply lives in a world of shambles where things are beyond their control and even their understanding. But there’s still hope, and that’s the message Heady wants the audience to take with them to inspire them to live in the moment.
“We’re doomed from the start,” says Heady, “but we’re making the most of our journey and keep going anyway.”
That journey and the hapless mayhem along the way are being posed for a single purpose. “I really just want the audience and the actors to have fun,” says Lavelle. “We want to entertain people; that’s what we do.”
“You know why people should come see the show?” asks Heady. “Because we tell pretty damn good stories and let people see theatre at its rawest and finest. It’s that simple.” cs
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
When: Feb. 20-22, Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at 8pm
Where: Freight Station, 703 Louisville Rd. Cost: $20
Where: Freight Station, 703 Louisville Rd.