Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jason goes to an actual live theatre and watches "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"

Performed by the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley. Ummm...their last show is tonight. Anyway, I'd never seen the original stage version, but the movie adaptation starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the title roles (although I forget which is which--but then, so do they) is one of my favorite movies ever. So I knew most of the lines by heart already, and I totally love their riffing on philosophical matters and the meaning of life. Particularly their lives as characters in Hamlet whose roles are so minor their deaths aren't even on stage. In this play, their the main characters but don't really exist before or after (well, especially after, seeing as they're dead). It's an existential comedy where they wait and discuss their meaning (and identities) while waiting for the "important" characters to come on stage so they completely impotent to change anything.

Anyway, as I said I've seen the movie many, many times, but the movie never really gave the sense of claustrophobia the stage version does. In the movie, they wander all over Elsinore and run into everyone. On stage, they mostly stay in one room (there are three acts, on their way to Elsinore, in Elsinore, and on a boat to England) and wait for people to come by, and their impatience and stir-craziness is far more apparent. Somehow that doesn't work as well in the movie when they're wandering all over the place.

And finally, as for this stage production. Well, it's local theater so some of it's pretty amateur. But the leads were great, and the jokes were funny. Oh yeah, and one of the running gags is that when the major players from Hamlet come on stage, they're actually speaking Shakespeare's lines, and it's supposed to be obtuse and confusing to them. Well, pretty much none of the actors were up for Shakespeare, except for the guy who played Horatio and ended the play. Okay, he's actually a friend of mine, and the reason I went up to Berkeley to see it in the first place. But the friends I went with agreed that of the Shakespearean lines, he was the one who delivered his line best.

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