You don’t need to know Hamlet well to enjoy this play which retells Shakespeare’s tragedy from the point of view of two of its minor characters Rosencrantz (Samuel Barnett) and Guildenstern (Jamie Parker) but it would probably help to have a grounding in the piece or you may be a little confused. Hugely inventive, immensely smart and verbally scintillating Nunn’s direction brings out the comedy and strange sadness in a play which uses Hamlet, a play about being and not being, as a springboard to explore existential dilemmas even more fully. Parker and Barnett have a fantastic relationship on stage and keep the piece rushing forwards while Chris Andrew Mellon as The Player brings a sparkling oddness to the stage. The physicality of the actors set against the bear but beautifully lit stage also makes for a dynamic and interesting viewing experiencing.
Following the show we were joined by Barnett, Mellon and Parker for a post-show Q&A which was as funny as it was insightful. Barnett and Parker spoke about the importance their pre-existent on-stage chemistry, having worked together previously on The History Boys, and about auditioning for their parts as a team. Mellon shared the difficulties of taking over from Tim Curry and effectively having to rehearse in front of full houses at Chichester. While all three expressed their pleasure at working with Nunn and his dynamism as a director and even about Stoppard’s involvement in the rehearsal process as well.
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