Friday, July 30, 2010

Show #41 "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead" with The Outfit Theatre Project

Being a non-expert on the works of William Shakespeare, more specifically, of Hamlet, my timing could not have been better.

Having just returned from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and experiencing their extraordinary production of "Hamlet," I was actually in a position to understand and appreciate the humor of The Outfit's "The 15 Minute Hamlet" and "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead." Lucky me.

Tom Stoppard's "15 Minute Hamlet" is exactly what the title implies. It is a speed-through of the highlights and most quotable lines from Shakespeare's long, long play. What is usually performed in over 3 hours is condensed (with humor) into a 15 minute play.

On the other hand, "Rosencrantz et al" is a fictional "what if" story about Hamlet's two college buddies who are rather minor characters in the original play, but take center stage in this tale that asks the question, "what would happen if the ghosts of Hamlet's murdered college buddies roamed the earth, searching for the answers and the meaning surrounding their untimely deaths?"

The results are a mixture of comedy, absurd repartee and more Hamlet quotes.

This whole concept of Stoppard's got me thinking. What if a play like this was written about the "untold stories" of other supporting Shakespearean characters? After spending a week with many such characters in Ashland, Oregon, I have a few suggestions.

I would be interested to see a show called "My Name is Antonio, and I Never Get the Girl (or Guy)." This is based on viewing both "The Merchant of Venice" and "Twelfth Night," where characters named Antonio both end up alone while other characters enjoy happy resolutions to their romantic lives.

Then there is the would-be title "Working for The Man: or Do I Work for a Woman?" Of course, Shakespearean comedies so often have female characters who dress as men. Gender-bending needs to be showcased.

And then there is the one-man show called "I Am Horatio, And What the Heck is Wrong With My Philosophy?"

I guess the list can go on and on. I've only just begun.

Bravo to The Outfit Theatre Project for taking on this ambitious production. It is yet another way Shakespeare can be a part of Pierce County arts.

Photo courtesy of John Pfaffe

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