Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead @ The Old Vic

Tuesday 21/03/17

Cast Includes Daniel Radcliffe, Joshua McGuire and David Haig

Running Time: 2 hours 30 mins, inc. Interval

Hot on the heels of the transfer of the Menier’s Travesties to the Apollo, comes another Stoppard play to the West End. Arguably his most famous work, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is celebrating 50 years of life on the stage, and gets a star-studded revival for the occasion. The plot revolves around that of Hamlet, and this is the story of what happened to the ‘lesser’ characters.

The plot is arguably one of Stoppard’s easiest to follow (possibly because of the familiarity most audience’s have with Hamlet), yet it is still quite a cerebral work. Notions of identity and self are tackled, along with fate, chance and predestination, yet there is still with a lot of humour in the piece (in particular with the question of which character is which).

The cast are exceptionally strong, especially the three leads. Daniel Radcliffe is exceptionally funny in the role of Rosencrantz, and he is not in a ‘star’ role – it seems he has been attracted to the piece due to the text’s strength. Joshua McGuire is also very well cast in the role of Guildenstern, and the two have great interplay, especially in the scenes which require them to be a double act against Luke Mullins’ Hamlet. David Haig imbues the other lead role of the Player King with a sinister, menacing tone, which works well and grounds the tragic nature of the piece, with it acting as a counterpoint of the eventual fate of Hamlet.

The staging of the piece is simplistic, but effective, and develops as the piece continues. The set design makes us feel like we are in a surreal, dream-like world, which is exceptionally good at highlighting the inner turmoil of the protagonists. There is one longer set change later in the piece, which is unavoidable but does slow the pace of the piece slightly.

Summary: A strongly acted and well cast celebratory production of Stoppard most famous work. Highly recommended ****

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