NT Live's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at The Old Vic


Here we have our second Show Sunday and with that my second review of a National Theatre Live production. By the picture it’s pretty clear what I’m reviewing today: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard which premiered at The Old Vic on 24th August 1966! This production has been arranged at its original theatre to celebrate the play’s 50th anniversary, and directed by David Leveaux. Of course it wouldn’t be a proper celebration if a couple of highly well-known actors weren't hired to play the stars of the roles. These actors are none other than Daniel Radcliffe, Rosencrantz, and Joshua McGuire, Guildenstern. The characters stumble through many different mishaps in this tragicomedy, set in a different perspective of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.

Given the amount that this play is studied in schools and how popular these two actors are in mainstream culture, I’m sure that this production has attracted many people, old and young alike! The showing started off with a tour of The Old Vic, a lovely introduction to theatre before seeing the play itself. This I have found to be what I love most about seeing theatre productions at the cinema. That and the decrease in cost!

Language is key in Stoppard’s masterpiece. This is evident in the minimal set; the stage is often left almost bare, with just a ladder and a curtain onstage. The audience must concentrate and listen to what the actors are saying to really understand the different nuances. Stoppard and Leveaux definitely chose the verbal over the visual.

At times I found myself quite confused, with it being a play within a play within a play. No surprise from an absurdist play! If you like any form of art to make sense easily then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will not be for you. This was what I found as I struggled to keep up with all the witty lines, and cuts from one scene to another, while my friend who watched it with me found delight in all the nonsensical scenes and confusion that occurred. It really shows that no matter how popular something may be personal preference and interests still sway your views.

Although this play wasn’t quite my cup of tea, there were still many moments where I laughed out loud, along with the rest of the audience. Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire bounced off of each other, and really made the moments of back-and-forth wordplay shine. One of the best parts for me was when they played a question game to practice talking to Hamlet, keeping score of who was winning. Radcliffe, McGuire and David Haig as The Player, all kept a fast pace, shooting out lines left right and centre! Despite their high energy, it was hard to see past the actor playing the character. I couldn’t quite believe that they were their characters, feeling their emotions. However, it was still worth a watch. Now it’s time to do some extra reading to prepare myself to see it again in the future! There is always more to learn.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an inventive and clever production, one that you should not miss out on. It may have not been completely for me, but it is understandable why it is loved by many. Its playing at The Old Vic till 5th May 2017 so be sure to check it out yourself. 

You Might Also Like