Against the backdrop of Hamlet, two hapless minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, take centre stage. As the young double act stumble their way in and out of the action of ...
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Against the backdrop of Hamlet, two hapless minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, take centre stage. As the young double act stumble their way in and out of the action of Shakespeare's iconic drama, they become increasingly out of their depth as their version of the story unfolds.
'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' is a wonderful and truly fascinating play, with beautifully developed characters and Tom Stoppard's very intelligent and witty script that William Shakespeare himself would be proud of. It is truly inspired and intriguing to have two minor characters from Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' (Hamlet even is a character here too) as main characters in a very fun and theatrical "spin off".
This is a really quite brilliant production that does such a fine play justice, the drama and writing still feeling remarkably fresh. Nothing feels dated here at all. The National Theatre Live series has always been an absolute pleasure and have always appreciated its accessibility, this 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' to me was one of the highlights of that particular year/season for the series, and one of the standouts of the whole series. Any reservations being completely quashed.
It is a great looking production visually. Simplicity can work very well on stage, as long as it is attractive, and it absolutely works here. It not only is designed beautifully but it is also interesting, never does it feel obstrusive and it is instead quite dynamic with what is going on on stage. The music, namely with the travelling players, is similarly unobtrusive and dynamic, the authenticity of it also striking. Plus it is far from unpleasant on the ears.
Stoppard's writing can't be faulted, its intelligence, poetry, irreverence and wit shining all the time without letting up. It is very wordy and undoubtedly would have even the best performers' minds in a muddle learning and rehearsing it, but the drama doesn't feel rambling and is so cleverly staged. Always lots of fun but it also feels very human and amongst all the fun and such there is a soul.
All the performances are on the money too. It is amazing at how the cast remembered such an enormous amount of text and a lot of it very difficult (another play that has that feel, other than most Shakespeare, is the even more mammoth Eugene O'Neill's 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night'). Had reservations about Daniel Radcliffe before watching but he gives one of his best performances here, and contrasts beautifully with the less quiet but even more engaging Joshua McGuire. Their chemistry would have made or broke the production and it is delightful here. David Haig is very entertaining and suitably pompous and Luke Mullins intrigues as Hamlet.
Editing is indeed never too fancy and neither does it feel too restricted. With the way the production was filmed for the live screening, one really does see the power of what is going on on stage and you see things, big and little, that is not noticed in the theatre, another remarkable thing about these live cinema screenings.
Overall, brilliant. 10/10
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