‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’ gets new life at Kent County Theatre Guild

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Rosencrantz, right, played by Stephen M. Davis of Camden, and Guildenstern, played by Cat Timko of Georgetown, toss a coin in the air during the Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” The show starts Feb. 26 at the Patchwork Playhouse in Dover. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER –– The Kent County Theatre Guild is bringing the story of two little-known Shakespearean characters to the forefront in its presentation of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”the forefront in its presentation of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

The Guild’s 62nd season kicks off with the dark comedy for two weekends starting Feb. 26.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are these side characters from ‘Hamlet’ that we don’t see much of,” said Kevin Smith, director of the play. “So this follows them on their adventures that happen in the meantime, while they aren’t on stage during ‘Hamlet.’”

The title characters, Rosencrantz, played by Cat Timko, and Guildenstern, played by Stephen M. Davis, play off each other for the duration of the play, complementing the other’s personality.

“It’s interesting because they’re almost different sides of the same character,” Mr. Davis said. “Guildenstern is logical and Rosencrantz is impulsive and just does without thinking.”

“But as the circumstances change, they change too and kind of see things from the other’s point of view,” Ms. Timko said.

“It really embodies the intricacies of human nature and each learn that their actions have consequences so not only are they changing, they’re learning too,” Mr. Davis said.

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In “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” Shakespearean characters such as Hamlet, played by James Muzzy of Smyrna, and Ophelia, aka Annika Campbell of Dover, are featured.

And that’s one of the most fascinating parts of the play.

“We as the audience see them as two characters that don’t come with a back story and throughout the play, it seems like they confuse one for the other and start to get confused about their own back stories,” Mr. Smith said.

Part of the reason the inventive work by Tom Stoppard was written with the two muddying up their back stories is that neither is mentioned in “Hamlet” individually — they always come as a pair.

And to depict how they are viewed in “Hamlet,” the few original scenes where the duo make an appearance are incorporated into the show. So those familiar with “Hamlet” will see familiar characters like Hamlet himself, Ophelia, Claudius and Gertrude.

But unlike “Hamlet,” those characters are a supporting cast in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.” The play is very dialogue heavy and the title characters wear simple, modern-day clothing and the set is minimalistic.

The title is taken from the final scene of “Hamlet.”

“The words are really the main part of the show,” Ms. Timko said. “So the script is really meaningful and the audience will need to pay close attention to follow the story.”

But for the scenes from “Hamlet,” the original dialogue remains intact.

The addition of “Hamlet’s” characters brings the cast up to 16 –– one of the largest featured in a Theatre Guild production.

“I would really like to direct a small cast musical, but working on a play that incorporates aspects of classical and modern is a great opportunity,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s definitely a play well worth doing for us and the community.”

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The cast of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” includes, back row, from left, The Player — Chuck DeLong of Newark; Rosencrantz — Stephen M. Davis of Camden; and Guildenstern — Cat Timko of Georgetown. Front row, The Tragedians are played by A.J. Sanchez of Dover, Amy Bill of Smyrna, John Muller of Dover and Steve Caporiccio of Dover.

And everyone in the Guild loves showing the community their acting chops and production skills.

Mr. Davis started acting when he was just a kid but took a break until a few years ago when his wife encouraged him to get involved again. Ms. Timko has also been involved in theater since elementary school.

Mr. Smith started out with theater while in grade school, mostly on the technical end but realized he loved performing once he had the opportunity years after getting back on stage. He’s been a member of the Guild for almost two decades.

“It was great because you get to create and inhabit a character and it’s a thrill but being on the other end, directing, it’s exhilarating too,” Mr. Smith said.

“As a director, you get the ability to create an entire vision for a play and I can work with the actors to help them portray the ideas I have in my head and it’s exciting to see that happen.”

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” premieres Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. Other 8 p.m. shows are Feb. 27, March 4 and 5; 2 p.m. matinées are set for Feb. 28 and March 6.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, military and students and $10 for those under 12. Tickets are available at kctg.org. The Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 E. Roosevelt Ave. in Dover.

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