A couple of weeks ago I found myself back in my favourite place: the theatre. This time I had managed to nab tickets to the highly anticipated performance of the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, playing at The Old Vic Theatre. Not only is this one of my favourite plays, but this performance had the added benefit of Josh McGuire and Daniel Radcliffe playing the main roles and David Hague as a brilliant supporting actor. To top it all off, Tom Stoppard himself was involved in the production.
For those of you who don’t know the play, it may be a good idea to get acquainted with Shakespeare’s Hamlet before watching it. The reason for this is because the play expands on the story of two of the minor characters in Shakespeare’s masterpiece: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This play is, in essence, an existential tragicomedy, so if you go with a view to turning off your brain for a couple of hours, you might well be disappointed. As Radcliffe put’s it “this is one of the most profound and beautiful plays about death and humans having to constantly face fate”.
“When you are watching it, if you get confused then just remember that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are probably more confused” – Josh McGuire
McGuire was made for the stage, the second he walked on he captured the audience’s attention within a second and had no trouble holding it until the closing curtain. Radcliffe, who plays a somewhat quieter character, plays his part with precision, delivering fantastic one-liners which always keep the audience on their feet. Throughout, you can’t help but be drawn into the dialogue between the two characters, laugh along with them and share in their despair when they learn about their fate.
The whole time I was watching the performance, I was glued to the edge of my seat, not only because of the fantastic performances taking place before me but because I found the whole thing incredibly entertaining, yet moving at the same time. The mixture of jokes and comedy scenes were perfectly balanced by the philosophical and existentialist undertones, and the fact that Stoppard wrote this at the age of 27 never ceases to astound me. My advice – if you only do one thing this weekend – go and see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.