Review: ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD at CAA Theatre

This hilarious romp staring Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is on stage until April 6 2024

By: Mar. 14, 2024
Review: ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD at CAA Theatre
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The Neptune Theatre production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead is the hilariously absurdist play written by Tom Stoppard, directed by Jeremy Webb, that shines the spotlight on two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet. As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern navigates the events of the play, they aren't exactly sure what's happening or what they're doing there but one thing does become exceptionally clear - they are destined to die. The star-studded casting for the title duo could not be a more perfect match - from the Academy Award winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd.

Most people would be drawn to this production for the chance to see hobbits Merry and Pippin together again and live on stage. Frankly, that's a perfect reason to attend. They are the stars of the show and the events of Hamlet unravel around them. Quite simply, these two are masters of their craft and it's a delight watching them do what they do best. The chemistry these two actors had on the set of Lord of the Rings is real and is carried through to this stage today. They play off each other seamlessly - a right hand and a left hand controlled by a singular brain. Their timing is impeccable; their energy perfectly matched.

Though Monaghan is known for taking on more serious roles while Boyd took on goofier characters, their choice to switch it up for this performance is delightful as they are both perfectly suited for the roles they have. Monaghan as Rosencrantz is a joy to watch, his face is lively and animated in a way that captures attention like a magnet. He may be the one reacting while Boyd as Guildenstern is the talkative one, but you always want to see how he reacts.

As absurdist as this story is, Boyd plays the more pragmatic Guildenstern balancing the pair as they navigate the events unfolding around them. Like a dinghy bobbing around at sea, neither know where they were or where they're going and Boyd is the much needed grounding element of the duo and there to deliver the gravitas of the news of their fate.

Playing off both of these strong characters is Michael Blake as the Player, the liaison between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the ensemble of Tragedians who carry the events of Hamlet along. A strongly skilled actor is required to match wits with the likes of Boyd and Monaghan and Blake is surely up to the task here. His performance is cunning and superb.

There's a fluidity throughout Rosencrantz & Guildenstern and much of that comes from the use of the mobile multi-level platforms by set designer Andrew Cull that glides across the stage for the cast to play on. And play they do adding to the absurdity of the production while, in a way, making it feel like theatre students discovering scenes in class. 

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead is the kind of production that's rare and doesn't come around very often, and this calibre of star talent at its helm makes it even more rare. By popular demand, this performance has been extended for the final time until April 6, so do not miss your opportunity. 




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