“Dogg’s Hamlet and Cahoot’s Macbeth” presented by Sound Theatre Company

If you like an intellectual romp all tangled up in a wild comedy, this is a theatre experience for you. Two one-act plays, meant to be performed together, they address the complexities of communication as well as artistic repression in Soviet Bloc countries. (Remember, Stoppard, born in Czechoslovakia, wound up as a schoolboy in Britain after his family fled from the Nazis.)

In “Dogg’s Hamlet,” English schoolboys speak Dogg, a language in which the words are English but have different meanings than those we’re accustomed to. When the character Easy, a deliveryman who speaks Standard English, comes in with building materials, chaos reigns. There’s no communication. There are only absurd misunderstandings, something that the philosopher of language Ludwig Wittgenstein would have predicted.

In “Cahoot’s Macbeth,” actors in a Soviet country prepare a private performance of Macbeth. But they are watched over by a threatening secret police inspector who suspects them of subversion. The play is homage to writer Pavel Kohout who’d been banned from theatres by the Communist leaders for his own subversive concepts. Macbeth, of course, is all about power plays, and in this work, that takes on a whole new meaning,

The cast, like the whole production, is good, but especially good is Robert Hinds in his role as the snide police inspector in a one-party government. He relishes his power as he toys with the actors who are his playthings. He reminds them that there are so many ways to harass and punish people. He laughs at the idea of a constitution. All the while, Macbeth, his Lady the witches, Banquo, and all the others carry on as Shakespeare intended. And at the end, when deliveryman Easy enters, once more chaos reigns and laughter bubbles.

Given the philosophical focus, these are among the least performed of Stoppard’s plays, and we owe thanks to Director Teresa Thuman for presenting them here. They remind us of Stoppard’s brilliant intellect, delight our sense of humor, and challenge our minds. Communication! Words! Language! That’s what makes us human, only just remember—words can be your friends or your enemies, depending on who’s writing the book.

Through June 23 at Center Theatre, Seattle Center Armory, Seattle, (206 856-5520 or info@soundtheatrecompany.org)

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