Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is alive and kicking in Chicago

Sun. April 7, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is alive and well at Court Theatre until it departs on April 28, 2024. The Tony Award-winning theatre company located at 5535 South Ellis Avenue in Chicago brings to life a play that plucks two characters from William Shakespeare's Hamlet to embark on an adventure of their own.

The title characters set the first scene with a flip of a coin then launch into quirky antics for the rest of an hour and a half with no intermission. It's the perfect running time for the great Danes to not wear out their welcome.

The play within a play continues as sections of Hamlet are depicted while two run around in circles until the bitter end.

Nate Burger plays Rosencrantz and Erik Hellman plays Guildenstern or maybe it is the other way around. Confusion is the name of the game in this tale of tragedy and surprises.

Hamlet, Ophelia, Polonius and Gertrude are regulated to the background chorus from The Tragedy of Hamlet's original source material of being major players. This in turn follows suit as the Court Theatre's ensemble is regulated to smaller supporting parts and limited dialogue. The talented and skilled performers, many of whom are Actors' Equity Association members, make the most of it by eagerly supporting the dynamic main duo.

There's a spontaneous, improvisational approach to the material by the performers that may leave viewers feeling they are watching an acting class. Chicago audiences are used to this in a city rich with comedy clubs.

The creatives and crew know what they are doing in this sleek modern space affiliated with the University of Chicago. Costume designer Raquel Adomo departs from the traditional Elizabethan style to modernize the troupe in suits. The blocking is well executed by everyone and makes use of the entirety of the theatrical space.

There are singing bits slipped in and unexpected twists to keep ticket holders guessing as to what will happen next. From sailing ships to shadow puppets there's rarely a dead moment to be found thanks to everyone involved.

More Shakespearean characters could be expanded on in the future by playwrights to keep Bill's legacy alive like Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead does with aplomb.

Hasten to visit for tickets now while there's still time left!