Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

National Theatre Live

Playwright Tom Stoppard,

Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as R and G, witha stellar performance by an actor whose name we canno remember or find as The Player King.

I remember seeing this play when I was in university in the late sixties, but the title was more memorable than the play. As it had it’s first production in England in the early, mid sixties, it is surprising that university productions were able to get the rights. But then perhaps they did not bother with such niceties!

And I cannot imagine that I could have made anything out of the play at the time. I had never seen and possibly never read, Hamlet. As a French literature major, I had heard of Beckett and even studied En Attendant Godot, but never seen a performance. Without the background of those two plays, what could I have made of that university production? Not much, although I seem to recall enjoying it.

Now that I am much older and much better educated and experienced in the theatrical world, I completely loved the National Theatre Live presentation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The two actors were charmingly naive, waiting for someone to tell them what to do and to explain what is going on. Of course, no one ever does and they are left to wonder and wander aimlessly around the stage.

Stoppaard has a way of making you feel tremendously uneducated. (See earlier comments on Travesties). His plays are simple on the surface, but filled with allusions to literature, history and the world around. At least with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern I felt I had a chance!



About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
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One Response to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

  1. keithhpotter says:

    The Player King was David Haig – played as a force of nature, in contrast to R&G being blown around by events. All three principals were excellent, as was the production overall.
    I don’t have much to compare it with, though. Like Cathy, I last saw it a long time ago, in repertory with Hamlet. Antoni says the Festival did this in ’86, so perhaps it was then – although I thought it was earlier.
    Anyway, on a stand-alone basis, this was an entertaining production, and the filming worked well.

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