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Critics Agree: R+G is “Marvelous”

A group of people in suits applaud. One person stands in the front of the crowd and takes a bow.
Photo of Amir Abdullah, Rob Lindley, Charence Higgins, Lorenzo Rush Jr., Blake Hamilton Currie, and Kenesha Kristine Reed by Michael Brosilow.

Who knew death could be so delightful? Critics and audiences are effusive in their praise for Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, hailing it as “riveting” and “marvelous.” Buckle up and join us for this wild ride!

This production has been extended by popular demand and now runs through Sunday, April 28. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at (773) 753-4472. Discover the meaning of life alongside Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

“Newell is a superb director…it has been my honor to intersect with one of the American theater’s most restless spirits and keenest minds….[Charlie’s] last, strikingly grounded cast, smiling and emoting for 90 minutes with equal measures of sincerity, bemusement and a sense of the moment, gave [him] a great retirement present.”

— Chicago Tribune, 4 out of 4 stars

“Directed by Charles Newell in his last show as Court’s artistic director, Stoppard’s inverted take on Hamlet is at once absurdly funny and — as it spins deeper and deeper into questions of free will versus destiny, what lies beyond the known universe and what becomes of us after we die — tantalizing and terrifying…

[Nate] Burger and [Erik] Hellman have a chemistry that crackles, sparks and pops whether they’re bickering Abbott and Costello-style about the law of probability or clinging to each other like children awakened by a nightmare they can’t quite remember. The supporting cast moves with the ease of mist as it brings to life both the Danish royals and the traveling troupe of actors playing their murderous doppelgangers…Newell’s garotte-tight pacing keeps Rosencrantz and Guildenstern moving with furious intent from start to finish. And in reclaiming the lives of two largely disregarded characters, the production opens up a marvelous alternate universe to Hamlet and all that it explores.”

— Chicago Sun-Times, 4 out of 4 stars

“As in most every production at the Court Theatre, the cast is impeccable….The supporting cast consists of some of Chicago’s finest performers…Charles Newell’s production is stunning, both visually and audibly, and features an accomplished and talented cast of actors, particularly Nate Burger and Erik Hellman. This play is, indeed, a tour de force for two of Chicago’s finest actors.”

— Chicago Theatre Review, Recommended

“In the lead roles, Nate Burger (Rosencrantz) and Erik Hellman (Guildenstern) are individually and collaboratively remarkable…Lorenzo Rush Jr. has exactly the needed charisma and presence to pull off The Player, and he skillfully picks the moments when he shrugs off the mantle of too-clever-by-half to invite the audience to be flummoxed when he is flummoxed by how confused the title characters are…In the Ensemble, Rob Lindley is particularly engaging as Polonius, as is Charence Higgins as Ophelia. And yet, singling these two actors out is certainly no intended slight to Blake Hamilton Currie (Hamlet), Amir Abdullah (Claudius), or Elizabeth Ledo (Gertrude), as they are all a true pleasure to watch. At this performance it simply seemed that the changes that emanate from Newell’s decisions offered the most novel opportunities to Polonius and Ophelia, and yet it is completely believable that on second viewing, shifting one’s attention to the others would be equally rewarding and truly new.”

— Talkin’ Broadway

“Charles Newell offers audiences a hilarious exploration of what makes us human as well as a stunning reminder of his keen dramaturgical instincts…The rapid-fire arrival of one punchline after another has a delightfully exhilarating effect that allows the play’s few moments of silence to land with greater profundity….Hellman’s Guildenstern is the most human I’ve ever seen onstage, setting a high standard for future productions across the city….

Newell and his cast have created an atmosphere of anarchic revelry that manages to make a fifty-year-old postmodern play feel fresh and timely, especially in an era when many of us feel that the trajectory of our lives and society may be well outside our control. 

— BroadwayWorld

“What a joy it is to hear Tom Stoppard again in Chicago, and it’s a particular delight to see his linguistic acrobatics catapulted into tongue-twisting and physical magic courtesy of the captivating comedic acting now onstage at Court Theatre…even if you are neither a Shakespeare nor a Stoppard fan, go see this one if only for its razor-sharp language, penetrating questions, comedic moments and to say a grateful goodbye to Charlie Newell even as you hope for more such examples of making classic plays contemporary.”

— Mara Tapp’s Theatre Raves, Highly Recommended

“Just as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were once summoned up by Hamlet (and, of course, by the mind of Shakespeare), today’s Court Theatre has been summoned up as a sign and symbol of the value of the creative arts, with the artistic director having the insight to get us to think in novel ways. What a sublime coincidence it has been to have such a talented and visionary individual as Newell engage audiences since the mid-1990s. What are the odds of that?”

— Around the Town Chicago

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a play about questions, from the ones the duo ask each other in games that interrogate language itself, to the ones it asks the audience about the meaning of life. Newell’s production poses these questions in ways that are hilarious and poignant, making it a fitting conclusion to his 30-year tenure.”

— Third Coast Review

“Stoppard’s play has been around since 1966, but you might find that Charles Newell brings a fresh take that even leaves long-time fans wondering what twist or turn may happen next. Along with a standout cast and stunning design, Court Theatre’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is one to remember.”

— Buzz Center Stage, Recommended

“In his final directorial bow in the role of artistic director after a powerful three-decade run, Charles Newell has quite a lot of fun with the material. Much deadpan drollery issues from these two minor characters out of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. They’re played with dumbstruck aplomb by Nate Burger and Erik Hellman, whose performances are so tightly intertwined they seem to be sharing a single anarchic brain while they oscillate between hope and dread.”

— Chicago Culture Authority

“Directed by outgoing artistic director Charles Newell, it’s intense, fast-paced, well-acted and visually arresting…The ensemble is excellent.”

— NewCity Stage, Recommended

“There are singing bits slipped in, and unexpected twists to keep ticket holders guessing as to what will happen next. From sailing ships to shadow puppets, there’s rarely a dead moment to be found thanks to everyone involved.”

— Go Pride Review

“The play has some intriguing insights about life and how blind trust and obedience can lead to tragedy while reminding us that ‘freedom is of a very limited nature.'”

— Let’s Play Theatrical Review

“The performance of Lorenzo Rush Jr. as the Player…is perfectly calibrated.”

— Chicago Reader

“Fine performances from Burger and especially Hellman, and the chemistry between them”

— Hyde Park Herald

Posted on April 8, 2024 in Productions

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