Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Fairfax High School Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

By • Dec 13th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
FX Players
Fairfax High School, Fairfax, VA
$15/$12 Students, Seniors
Through Dec. 14th

This is the ShowBizRadio review of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead performed by the FX Players of Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Virginia. We saw the performance on Friday evening, December 12, 2008.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a play by Tom Stoppard. The play concerns the misadventures and musings of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet who are childhood friends of the Prince, focusing on their actions with the events of Hamlet as background.

This was a quirky play. It’s definitely one to discuss afterwards on the way home. It was quite comical in some parts, while other scenes were more plot-heavy, drawing from Hamlet. The two main characters did a terrific job, while the supporting cast and “tragedians” also did well. The production had a nice pace, never getting entirely zany nor stifling. There were a couple dialogues between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (such as the question game) that required a quick, snappy pace that was handled well by the play’s director Paul Rubenstein.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (you decide which is which) were played by Jeremy Tuohy and Brandon Tuohy. The brothers had an enormous number of lines to learn and were on stage for almost the entire play. Brandon Tuohy made Guildenstern an outgoing and cheerful character. He was not overly concerned with how life would turn out until the end of the play. Jeremy’s Rosencrantz was much more uptight and confused about his role in life.

The “Player” who kept everything moving along was portrayed admirably by Allie Cropp. Cropp came across as no nonsense almost to the point of being obnoxious.

This was a small black box theatre that was almost sold out. All of the actors did well with facing out and not turning their backs to the audience. The set was painted black with ramps and a couple steps to the lower level. There were also a few hidden entrances which were used effectively. Other entrances throughout the theater were well used to help keep the audience off balance as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s adventures continued. The set was designed by Sarah Ree.

The lighting was basic white lights and red for accent. There seemed to be some places in the center stage area that cast dark shadows. The lighting was done by Jesse Free. There were several sound effects used, with an especially nice one during the ship scene in the second Act. The sound designer was Bailey Ewing.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead ran two hours and fifteen minutes with one fifteen minute intermission. It is playing through Sunday December 14th. The Saturday evening performance is sold out, the Sunday matinee is at 2 pm at the Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Virginia.

Once you’ve seen the show, please leave your thoughts about it here on our website at Show Biz We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with theater events in the DC Region.

And now, on with the show.

Director’s Notes

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead had long ben an elusive dance partner for me. For years, I would try to find an excuse to read and/or see it, but something always came up. When the opportunity arose to direct this play, I was both honored and, truth be told, a bit nervous. I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to fully devote to the process, knowing that I would have a lot on my plate already. I decided to take the leap in any event, as I was up for a different challenge. This play is so cerebral, so existential, and so wacky, that it was easy to lose track of what is going on.

In speaking with some friends who have directed R&G before, I learned that it was one of the most rewarding, if confusing, productions of their careers. A typical response was, “I had no clue what was going on, but I enjoyed it.” I sincerely hope that our production will not be confusing. I am reminded of Hamlet’s instruction to the players (which, ironically, is not included in this play) about suiting the words to the actions and the actions to the words. There is a lot going on in this play. It is a statement piece, but I feel that it is up to the audience member to determine just what that statement is. Some of you may feel that it has a very Seinfeldian feel to it, that this play is really about nothing. Others may question the point of following orders. There are two things upon which I think we can all agree. The first is said by the player, “We’re actors; we’re the opposite of people.” The second, more salient point, is uttered by Rosencrantz after a furious back and forth exchange with Guilenstern about Hamlet. He simply sums up that Hamlet is “stark raving sane.” When we strip everything else away and look at just how absurd life can be, this is the best possible response. It is better to laugh at the ridiculous than to worry about those things we cannot control. Some laugh with us, but also take time to think about what is important. After all, the coin can only land on heads so many times…


  • Rosencrantz: Jeremy Tuohy
  • Guildenstern: Brandon Tuohy
  • Alfred: Harry Weger
  • Player: Allie Cropp
  • Drummer: Joe Fried
  • Flautist: Chi Chi Ramos
  • Lute Player: Chis Sisson
  • Tragedian: Kaile Sponaugle
  • Ophelia/Laertes: Jess Rawls
  • Hamlet: Alex Lissabet
  • Claudius: Will Sisson
  • Gertrude: Michelle Marin
  • Polonius: Dylan Halpern
  • Attendant 1/Ambassador: Charlotte Woodward
  • Attendant 2/Fortinbras: Ally Pittman
  • Soldier/ Horatio: Caitlin Tuohy
    • Crew

      • Director: Paul Rubenstein
      • Assistant Acting Director: Garin Pappas
      • Assistant Technical Director: Tem Weiland
      • Stage Manager: Colleen O’Brien
      • Assistant Stage Managers: Jess Rawls, Michael Dixon
      • Set Design: Sarah Ree
      • Lighting: Jesse Free
      • Sound: Bailey Ewing
      • Costumes: Michael Dixon
      • Properties: Jess Rawls
      • Carpenters and Electrical Crew: Students in Technical Theatre class
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

2 Responses »

  1. Thank you so much for coming! We had an amazing turnout for the whole run of the show and I am delighted that everyone enjoyed it.

  2. These kids are really amazing. This production is difficult since it’s rather hard to understand just what’s going on, but these students made it quite enjoyable. As a Theatre Booster parent and officer (and mom of a performer), I can see how hard these students (and teachers) work to put on really fine productions. Their next production, Singin’ in the Rain, will be amazing – the students are building a system that will amaze and surprise anyone coming to see the show. Visit for ticket info.