I originally saw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead back in 2011, starring Jamie Parker who would later go on to play Harry Potter in the Cursed Child play. Coincidentally, this 2017 production, marking 50 years since the play first premiered, stars another actor who has played Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, best known for his work in the film franchise.
Radcliffe plays Rosencrantz opposite Joshua McGuire’s Guildenstern, a pairing that works incredibly well as the two play off one another. Radcliffe’s innocent expressions and calm demeanour are the perfect foil for McGuire’s energy, and the two are hugely entertaining when they are on stage together. David Haig makes a great job of the Player King, but for me, by far the best parts of the play involved just the two protagonists, their verbal sparring, games, inherent confusion, and existential questions.
Tom Stoppard’s play propelled him into the limelight fifty years ago, and it’s not hard to see why. Cleverly focusing on two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it helps if you are familiar with that play but it isn’t essential. Watching this, comparisons arise with Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, as the two protagonists question their existence and ask themselves what they are supposed to be doing. Intelligent and entertaining, this is another positive for the Old Vic.