14 March 2017

Well crafted and hilarious Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at The Old Vic


As the poster suggests, the main draw for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Old Vic Theatre‎ was meant to be Daniel Radcliffe but my main reason for going was that this was a play that I had heard of but had not seen and the name Tom Stoppard suggested that I should. I was in the queue for tickets promptly and so managed to get hold of Lilian Baylis Circle (the top level) B23 for £39 which was towards the top end of what I was prepared to pay.

The Old Vic is well situated close to Waterloo Station and so I was able to leave work soon after the end of the working day (5:30pm), but well before anybody else, to get to Culture Grub for 6:30pm where I am recognised as a regular. I went for the Chinese style curry with boiled rice, which I may have had once or twice before, and will have once or twice again.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead entertained from the very start as the two leads undertook the tasks given to them by King Claudius in Hamlet in a bumbling and uncertain manner. So uncertain were they that even they could not work out who was Rosencrantz and who was Guildenstern. Their Mr Bean like antics were a core of the play and that was a very solid core.

On a few occasions Rosencrantz and Guildenstern crossed into the world of Hamlet and we had some familiar scenes from that play embedded into this one. A simple device that was very effective.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern crossed paths a few times with The Player, a harlequin character played with great gusto and aplomb by David Haig, who will always be one of the marks in The Hustle to me. His performance had been described as show stealing in some reviews that I had seen and while I could understand why that had been said I think that the strongest performance was Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern (or was it Rosencrantz?).

The production did a lot to emphasise the fun of the story and the play was two hours of relentless light entertainment that brought many smiles and much laughter, the antithesis to the Hamlet that inspired it.

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