Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: St. Louis

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
St. Louis Shakespeare
Review by Richard T. Green

Wendy Renée Greenwood, Robert Thibaut,
Nicholas Kelly, Dan McGee, Ted Drury

Photo by Ron James
Rocket-fueled by some exceedingly delightful performances, with stylish directing by Suki Peters, Tom Stoppard's comedy of fate still looks great, 52 years after its world premiere. And, as always, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead seems to ask: Are we all just plot devices in someone else's drama? And is death merely the ultimate plot device? But the answer, in this version, is strangely comforting.

In this St. Louis Shakespeare production, Robert Thibaut is outstanding as a slightly idiotic Rosencrantz, and Ted Drury is boyishly likable as Guildenstern, two college chums of Hamlet, the troubled prince of Denmark, in this behind-the-scenes version of Shakespeare's great tragedy. And a rather dazzling supporting cast backs them up, most prominent among them being Isaiah Di Lorenzo as The Player—here a great, grandiloquent spider of a man. But thanks to everyone involved, 1,000 little witty meditations on our most meaningless moments lead us through 1,000 doorways, into a blessed oblivion.

Mr. Thibaut should probably just drop everything and move to New York, based on the strength of his Rosencrantz. That's what actors do when they become tireless, highly inventive clowns. And the gradual accumulation of Mr. Thibaut's many philosophical tintinnabulations land him somewhere between Jack Lemmon and Jack Haley, Jr., as his layers of pleasant neuroticism pile up high. But if he left St. Louis, you wouldn't have him to watch on the banks of the Mississippi (actually about four blocks west of the river) at the Ivory Theatre, a beautifully converted old church at Michigan and Ivory Avenues. It almost seems like he has ten good moments for every 60 seconds of his time on stage, and he's on for just about 100% of the show's 2:20 hour running time, I think. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that's 2,200 good moments from him alone.

Mr. Drury hardly misses a beat as Guildenstern, but is far more enigmatic—which is probably for the best, as it would make your head explode if both of them were cranked up to their highest psychological degree of instability. And Mr. Di Lorenzo adds an insane slant to everything, as he and his traveling band of performers await their time in the court of Elsinore.

Joe Garner is touchingly comic as the butt of all the actor gags in that troupe; and Nick Kelly and Wendy Renée Greenwood are deliciously squandered in their meager roles as Claudius and Gertrude—Mr. Kelly looking like a bearded Orson Welles as he blusters his way onstage, and Ms. Greenwood as a sublimely elegant queen.

Scott McDonald manages to be a brooding and intelligent Hamlet, despite the short-shrift, and blink and you'll miss the always excellent Eileen Engel as Ophelia. One of the nicest guys in St. Louis theater for some 40 years, Dan McGee, does very well as Polonius.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, through April 15, 2018, at St. Louis Shakespeare, Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan Ave., St. Louis MO. For more information visit

Cast (in order of appearance):
Robert Thibaut: Rosencrantz
Ted Drury: Guildenstern
Isaiah Di Lorenzo: The Player
Joe Garner: Alfred
Megan Wiegert: Tragedian/Ambassador
Cliff Turner: Tragedian/Horatio
Michael Pierce: Tragedian/Soldier
Genevieve Collins: Tragedian/Lead Ukulele
Scott McDonald: Hamlet
Eileen Engel: Ophelia
Nicholas Kelly: Claudius
Wendy Renée Greenwood: Gertrude
Dan McGee: Polonius

Artistic Staff and Crew:
Director: Suki Peters
Set Designer/Technical Director: Chuck Winning
Costume Designer: Meredith LaBounty
Lighting Designer: Kevin Bowman
Sound Designer: Ted Drury
Stage Manager/Light Board Operator: Katie Robinson
Production Manager/Props/Sound Board Operator: Morgan Maul-Smith
Assistant Stage Manager: Genevieve Collins
Scenic Painter: Meg Brinkley
Costume Assistant: Emma Hersom
Carpenter: Michael Amoroso
Graphic Designer: Zac McMillan