Heads Every Time

Review of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at Seattle Public Theater by Chloe L.

Alyssa Keene and Angela DiMarco as Guildenstern and Rosencrantz at Seattle Public Theater

Like any typical teenager, I was procrastinating doing my homework one night when I noticed an opportunity to review a show. I yelled, “MOM can I go review a play this Friday?! It’s Rosencracker & Gildenstien are Dead.” The response simply was, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? I love that show! Can I come?” Wow, I can see why the possibility of seeing this show created such excitement.

The play opens with the characters flipping a coin, which has managed to come up heads 89 times in a row. This leads to a humorous and mind bending train of thought on probability and the possibility of a God by Guildenstern, played by Alyssa Keene, while Rosencrantz, played by Angela DiMarco, tries to keep up.

Throughout the show, a similar vein prevails, and, if you can keep up with the fast paced thought processes and soliloquies of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, you are in for one heck of a brain boggling ride. The show wouldn’t be as remarkable without Keene’s and DiMarco’s flawless performances. Somehow, the two manage to never miss a beat and pull the audience along the humorous, twisted path of their thoughts. After seeing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern played by two talented women, I doubt I could ever see two men pull it off half as well.

Throughout the show, the two protagonists are being dragged along the confusing plot of Hamlet, which they are minor characters in, and trying to understand it. They don’t seem to remember their prior lives and they don’t seem to be sure of the present. As they get yanked through the heated and gory plot of Hamlet, they start to question things that we question all the time, such as the meaning of life and death. As we watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s story, we start to make connections between what they are talking about and our deeper, hidden thoughts. My mom, after leaving the performance, commented on a monologue by Rosencrantz saying “It was just so funny because I think of that all the time before I go to sleep; I couldn’t have explained my thought process better.”

As the pair struggle to find meaning, they seem to be followed by a zany acting troupe whose dramatic Lead Player, acted by Heather Hawkins, seems to have it all figured out. Her troupe specializes in acting out death, rolling with the punches, and simply being. While Guildenstern has trouble accepting their views, her arguments with The Player about death being some of the most humorous and thought provoking of the play, Rosencrantz seems to be content to go right along with The Player.

In many ways, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are just two sides of the same coin, always connected and always with each other, yet fundamentally different. They represent the conflicts we have within our own heads, which we wish we could fix with the flip of a coin. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a play worth seeing and the decision to go can be decided with the flip of a coin, provided it comes up heads every time.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Seattle Public Theater
Through February 19

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