Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
From: Thursday, 16th June 2011
To: Saturday, 20 August 2011
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Trevor Nunn realizes a forty year old dream by at last directing Tom Stoppard's first masterpiece Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead as the second production of his season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Original History Boys Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker will reunite to take the title roles.
A verbally scintillating and richly inventive play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead retells Hamlet through the eyes of two of its minor characters. Vaguely conscious that they are bit parts in a much bigger story of which they have no direct knowledge, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hilariously and poignantly inhabit a world completely beyond their grasp.
The play premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe before being picked up by the National Theatre and then given its London premiere at the Old Vic (where the National was then based), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was Tom Stoppard’s first major success.
Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker also had their breakthroughs at the National, starring as Posner and Scripps in the NT’s 2004 premiere of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, roles they went on to reprise on Broadway, on tour and on screen in NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s 2006 film.
Samuel Barnett won two of our Whatsonstage.com Awards for his History Boys performance, for Best Supporting Actor in a Play and Newcomer of the Year. His subsequent stage credits have included Dealer’s Choice, The Whiskey Taster and Women Beware Women. Notable television roles have included Beautiful People and Desperate Romantics.
Jamie Parker’s post-History Boys credits have included The Revenger’s Tragedy, As You Like It, A New World, My Zinc Bed, Racing Demon and Henry IV Parts 1 & 2.
Book now for some great Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead tickets at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Michael Coveney - 22 June 2011
After a short run on the open stage at Chichester, Trevor Nunn’s beautiful revival of Tom Stoppard’s first play comes into sharper focus at the classical Haymarket as the second offering in the director’s season (next up: Ralph Fiennes as Prospero).
What we lose in sweep as Hamlet washes over the hapless, philosophising courtiers, we gain in concentrated intermingling of the affairs at Elsinore and in the baffled banter of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. There’s also a much funnier slant on Hamlet itself, which keeps you guessing as Stoppard switches scenes around and toys with chronology.
This unmooring of one play as a confusing backdrop to the new one is all part of the fun, and Samuel Barnett’s Rosencrantz explodes with impatience as Hamlet (Jack Hawkins) consigns Ophelia (Katherine Press) to a nunnery – “It’s like living in a public park” – and sighs with boredom as the gloomy Dane emb...
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David Baxter - 19 August 2011:
Tom Stoppard has a richly deserved reputation for plays on a wide range of intellectually obscure subjects filled with dazzling wit but also an irresistable urge to show off. His first play demonstrates that those characteristics were there from the very beginning. The idea of seeing the story of Hamlet through the eyes of two minor characters is brilliant and, when closest to that conceit it is frequently clever, funny and highly entertaining. There are a couple of very good recurring jokes; nobody,not even Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, are sure which is which and Hamlet is invariably referred to as talking to himself again. However there are just as many times when it is deeply irritating, especially the (acknowledged) homage to / rip off of Waiting for Godot - even the Player King is obviously Pozzo and Alfred is Lucky. The vast majority of a large cast are almost entirely incidental and the play depends on the performances of the two main characters. Jamie Parker is a touch too bombastic at times and Samuel Barnett only just sterrs clear of Kenneth Williams as a very camp Rosencrantz (or Guildenstern), but they are both highly engaging and manage to avoid the trap of an audience wishing they really were dead. If this had been the first Stoppard play I had seen I might never have had to endure the apalling Jumpers but I would also have missed Arcadia which stands as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century....
Samuel Barnett (Rosencrantz)
Michael Benz (Horatio)
Tomm Coles (Courtier 2)
Chris Andrew Mellon (The Player)
Trevor Allan Davies (Player 7/Lucianus/Claudius-poisoner)
Zac Fox (Player 5)
Fiona Gillies (Gertrude)
Tom Golding (Fortinbras)
Charlie Hamblett (Alfred)
Jack Hawkins (Hamlet)
Elisabeth Hopper (Courtier 4)
Andrew Jarvis (Polonius/Ambassador)
Greg Last (Player 6)
Jody Elen Machin (Courtier 3)
Chris Andrew Mellon (Player King)
James Northcote (Player 4)
Stephen Pallister (Courtier 1)
Jamie Parker (Guildenstern)
Katherine Press (Ophelia)
James Simmons (Claudius)
Keith Thompson (musician)