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Before he used his plays to explain how rock ’n’ roll impacted the Prague Spring or how marital relationships evolve over time, Tom Stoppard turned his attention to two of drama’s forgotten characters: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two childhood friends of the Prince of Denmark who make a brief appearance in Hamlet. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard amplifies the foolish qualities of the courtiers as they try to figure out what’s happening with the main characters. Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude, and Claudius all pop up here and there, but it’s the two goofballs tasked with offing Hamlet that control the action. Anyone who’s read or seen Hamlet knows how it all ends, but this comic twist on the dark tale adds a necessary lightness. Folger packs its cast with area heavyweights including Arena Stage regular Andy Prosky and Synetic Theater company member Brynn Tucker, so take off your mourning attire and prepare to laugh about love, death, and moody princes. The play runs May 12 to June 21 at Folger Elizabethan Theatre, 210 East Capitol St. SE. $30–$75. (202) 544-7077. folger.edu.