Volume 95, Issue 37

Wednesday, November 7, 2001
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Gin Game a stacked success

Jet Li hits the screen with force in The One

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern too much for cast to handle

Disc of the Week

Emergency - Hermits on the loose

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern too much for cast to handle

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Deane Billington-Whiteley, Scott Holden-Jones
Directed By: Christopher Lockett
One star (out of five)

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

If you had any doubt about whether or not Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, rest assured – they are.

This is definitely not a play intended for everyone.

From the chaotic opening moments to the final curtain, the viewer is trapped in an intricate web of confusion which never ceases to let go.

The plot is minimal at best as the two main characters, Rosencrantz (Deane Billington-Whiteley) and Guildenstern (Scott Holden-Jones), spend the majority of the play doing relatively nothing. Instead, they become spectators to their own play that slowly unfolds around them.

At first, the two characters find themselves in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of where they are or how they got there. The opening quickly establishes this and, from here on, nothing that transpires seems concrete.

The basic and effective set, comprised primarily of a giant chest placed in the centre of the stage, is a constant throughout the performance. There is little use of any special effects apart from a sound clip of seagulls and music.

The only fantastic feature is the excellent sword fighting exemplified by various performers.

The cast is by no means a bad one, however, the complex script may have been a little more than they could handle.

Billington-Whiteley does an excellent job portraying his character's bewilderment throughout the play. At no point does one find themself questioning his character. His facial expressions are humourous and he is responsible for almost all of the play's humour.

Holden-Jones' character, on the other hand, appears differently at various times. In the beginning, he gives the impression of an intellectually superior being while, at other times, he appears confused and dumb.

The wit in the dialogue between Billington-Whiteley and Holden-Jones is often delivered too fast and, by the time the audience reacts, the players are already halfway done the next clever anecdote.

These conversations drag on and the unbearable repetition, although funny at first, becomes nothing more than an annoying two-hour rendition of Abbott and Costello's famous "who's on first" joke.

The dialogue is a lot like a tennis match, shooting back and forth, forcing the audience to constantly shift focus and leaving no time to just sit back and enjoy.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead fails to capture the average viewers' interest and, unlike a boring movie, you cannot simply change the channel. This makes for a very long production and the chair you're sitting in can become surprisingly uncomfortable.

One more word of advice – make sure to brush up on your knowledge of Hamlet before attempting this play, as everything revolves around it and the script will make more sense.

Although somewhat entertaining, this is not a play you can walk into expecting to simply relax and enjoy quality theatre.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead plays at the Talbot College Theatre November 6 - 10. For times and ticket info, call 672-8800.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001