Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
Crabbe and Goyle Are Dead is the perfect project for a Hollywood Fringe themed with Fantasy this year. If you know nothing about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, don’t fret – you’ll be able to follow everything. If you don’t know the Harry Potter series, you’ll also still be fine. If you know both well, things get sticky.
Crabbe and Goyle follows all the beats and plot points and famous moments from R&G Are Dead but inserts Magical World materials – Chocolate Frog card packs reveal the same card instead of coins always coming up heads; a fun bit of spells stand in for the Questions game; direct dialogue and sections from the books involving Crabbe and Goyle are presented as they appear in the Potter series. It’s very fun. It makes perfect sense to blend these and the idea is simple genius.
And the leads, Graydon Schlichter and Michael Lutheran are fantastic. They use pitch-perfect accents, their energy is palpable – they are just incredibly watchable performers. Kiki Anderson as the house elf Tinsy is also excellent and dead-on with her elfy voice. The rest of the cast is also good in multiple roles (Ace Carter does a spot-on Daniel Radcliffe). The performances, direction, and tech (with well-used shadow play) are not the issue here. It’s the concept.
This would be very funny as a short play or a fun writing challenge. But a lot of the writing here is direct lift, which in parts makes sense, as R&G direct lifts from Hamlet, but this play direct lifts Stoppard’s original work as well, and some of that work is misunderstood. There comes a point where the novelty wears off and while the rewriting generally works, Crabbe’s emotional shift isn’t massaged enough and seems to come out of nowhere.
Still, if you’re a fan of both or either shows, you’ll find some cute similarities, truly great acting, solid direction, and a fun time.
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