[THEATRE/COMEDY ~ SA]
The Mill – The Breakout, Sat 16 Feb.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (legally and factually distinct from the Tom Stoppard play of a similar name) is a hilarious, cerebral, boundary breaking piece of theatre that calls into question the notion of theatre itself, poking gentle fun at the neurosis of actors in the midst of a performance run while also asking if Hamlet is even worth the hype. It is chaotic and clever, with a lively cast of talented young performers.
Hamlet (Kidaan Zelleke) – referred to by her fellow cast members as ‘Hammo’ – is reaching a breaking point being asked to perform her own death live on stage seven days a week and twice on Saturdays. Laertes (Chloe Willis) reasonably points out that she’s not really dying – Hamlet is, and that’s different. However, in a play like Hamlet, the individual performer is ultimately subsumed into the character. Actors die eventually, but Hamlet is functionally immortal.
As the play builds to its climax, the actors desperately struggle to change the ending, to save Hamlet and all the rest of them, struggling against the preordained actions they have to follow to their inevitable, tragic conclusion, before realising it is impossible. There is no changing Hamlet, not in any way that matters. In order for it to still be Hamlet, Hamlet has to die.
The play-space becomes a haunted house, a question of repetition, the performance a revenant being eternally revived only to be killed the next evening. This uncanny sense is made subtly chilling when Polonius (Lucy Haas) asks Rosencrantz (Poppy Mee) and Guildenstern (Zola Allen) to explain why Hamlet is a good play, and the only answer they can give is simply because it is, because everyone says so, because we all agree it’s a masterpiece. We do it because it is done, and so it becomes an endless repetition.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead continues at The Mill – The Breakout, at various times, until Sun 17 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.