We couldn’t resist a Whatsonstage.com Outing to see Trevor Nunn finally realising a forty year old dream by directing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard’s break-out play. With a range of theatregoers – some Stoppard fans, some Hamlet officiandos and others who’d only heard tell of this rather strange play and wanted to see it for themselves – we settled into our seats programmes in hand, in case we needed a reference point.

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.

Please do feel free to email your comments and thoughts about the play, as well as any photos you have of the event and the evening through to feedback@whatsonstage.com, we love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining us for this event, and do check the homepage to keep up to date on all of our upcoming Outings.

Laura Norman