Providence College's current show is Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead". This play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters found in Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Written in 1967 the title characters are now the leads and Hamlet, himself has only a small part. The two characters brought into being within the puzzling universe of the play, by an act of the playwright's creation, and those they encounter, often confuse their names, as they have interchangeable yet periodically unique identities. They are portrayed as two clowns or fools in a world that is beyond their understanding; they cannot identify any reliable feature of the significance in words or events. Their own memories are not reliable or complete and they misunderstand each other as they stumble through philosophical arguments without realizing the implications to themselves. They often state deep philosophical truths during their nonsensical ramblings, however they depart from these ideas as quickly as they come to them. At times one appears to be more enlightened than the other; however this position is traded off throughout the course of the drama. After the two of them find themselves witnessing a performance of the ''Murder of Gonzago", they take a boat to England with the Players and their acting troupe, are ambushed by pirates and lose their prisoner, Hamlet before resigning themselves to their fate. The bawdiness of the acting troupe and their antics when they are onstage keep the action flowing in this humorous, absurdist, dramatic and existentialist play.
The direction and acting in this show is good, however I disagree with director Mary Farrell casting two sets of performers as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with them exchanging roles during the middle of scenes when a buzzer goes off. At first this device is interesting but it interrupts the cadence and rhythm of the scene. And while the two actors and actresses in these roles are talented performers, the different energy needed is lost when the roles are changed in the middle of the action. The pacing especially at the end of Act 2 and the beginning of Act 3 needs to be quickened to maintain the interest of the audience. However her double casting of the Player works because both of them are onstage together and they maintain their bigger than life roles throughout. The two title characters first entrance is astounding. They rappel themselves from the top of the stage area to create a spectacular entrance. Suzanne Keyes and Jill Palmer start off the show as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern clad in red plaid kilts with their counterparts, Kevin White and Ryan Desaulniers clad in kilts, too. The two scene stealing performers who are the Players in this show are Brian McCormick and Colleen Rosati. Their powerful delivery and comic antics mesmerize the audience as they run hither and yon with their traveling acting troupe doing death scenes over and over again. Their troupe consists of Justin Pimental, (Hamlet), Sarah Bedard, (Ophelia) Keith R. Martin, (Claudius) Kate Costello, (Gertrude), Carolyn Blais, (Polonia) Alisa D'Amore, (Ambassador) Erin Ellingsen (Horatio & Musician) and Kevin MacLean ( Soldier & musican) The Royal family is dressed in white tennis outfits while the acting troupe is dressed in wild hippie clothes of the 1960's. So if you like "Waiting for Godot" and other wild and absurdist type shows, then this show will be your cup of tea.