Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

by Tom Stoppard
directed by Blanka Zizka

May 20 – June 20, 2015

Following Shakespeare’s great tragedy will be one of Tom Stoppard’s greatest comedies as the Wilma tells the story of Hamlet through the eyes of two very different characters.  In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which will mark the Wilma’s 11th production of a work by Tom Stoppard, minor characters take center stage as they journey on a boat taking Prince Hamlet to England with players from the royal court.  As these characters unknowingly sail to a fate Shakespeare has already scripted for them, arguments of free will and determinism abound, all set to the constant travel game of flipping coins.  In this battle of wits, Stoppard’s characteristic wordplay and case of mistaken identities create a spectacle that’s philosophical, clownish, and complete with a pirate-ambush.


But at its core, it’s this really clever and charming play on words, concepts and art. It speaks to art as a salve, a buoy or port in the storm that is life, a way to attempt making sense of these lives we lead.
There’s the joy of watching Keith Conallen and Jered McLenigan in meticulously considered performances of the two guys, and the actor Ed Swidey’s magnetic performance as the head of a troupe of players who also figure in “Hamlet.”
Both Conallen and McLenigan were outstanding during Wednesday’s performance and demonstrated an almost superhuman emotional and physical endurance throughout the night
Retaining the same cast for both shows (aside from Zainab Jah, who won’t be returning as Hamlet) is part of Zizka’s ongoing attempt to create a resident company of actors trained in the Wilma’s physical, vocal and emotional approach. The actors worked with vocal teacher Jean-René Toussaint and attended workshops with Theodoros Terzopoulos of the Attis Theatre in Greece, who will direct next season’s “Antigone.”
— Metro
McLenigan took our rapid-fire Q&A, where he discusses drinking his bottled tears on opening night, making himself up to look like Morgan Freeman and that time he made eggs for Eddie Vedder.