Review Round-Ups

Did Daniel Radcliffe impress the critics in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?

Tom Stoppard’s play opened at The Old Vic 50 years after its premiere

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"What David Leveaux's production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead manages to do, is to keep all its sharp energy and smartness, yet simultaneously remind us too that this is a play about two men who are about to die."

"The production is also beautifully cast. In Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz and Joshua McGuire's Guildenstern it has two protagonists who are like a matching salt and pepper set or non-identical twins, alike, interdependent but ultimately differentiated by subtle markings."

"The whole thing is framed in a slightly over-emphatic design by Anna Fleischle. I liked the way it uses the entire depth of the Old Vic stage, bringing the action as far forward as it can, while placing its effects at the back, and dividing the space with silk curtains but it occasionally over-complicates the action, particularly in the second half. "

"Leveaux's direction… is carefully modulated, pulling the different threads together with considerable skill."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"50 years after its professional premiere at this very theatre, Tom Stoppard’s philosophical comedy still shines brightly."

"It helps that this revival stars Daniel Radcliffe, who is perfectly matched by Joshua McGuire, and that David Leveaux’s production is nimble and inventive. "

"The cheering fact is that this is a young man’s play that still seems sprightly, invigorating and even moving in its preoccupation with the inevitability of death."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"The central conceit combines inter-textual liberty-taking with philosophical glances at its protagonists’ lack of free-will (epitomised by its famous early sequence involving a tossed coin that repeatedly lands on "heads"). All the world’s a stage and most of the men and women, Stoppard notes here, merely bit-part players."

"It’s not a side-splitting evening but it tickles just as it should and there’s the added poignancy of realising that in Stoppard’s beginning lay shudders at the finality of death, "the endless time of never coming back"."

"The pacing is fleet, the timing slick, and memorable moments are in sufficiently plentiful supply. David Haig deserves a special mention as the Player, a scene-stealing combination of obsessive old-stager, cockney wheeler-dealer, pimp and pirate, surrounded by a hangdog, pierrot-faced entourage."

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail


"Words, words, words: that might be Hamlet's reaction, particularly to the opening scene in which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Joshua McGuire) toss coins and talk, talk, talk."

"It is highbrow dialogue, packed with philosophy and riffs on probability that reek of undergraduate look-at-me intellectualism."

"Mr Radcliffe is game to try to escape type-casting by throwing himself into this quasi-Beckett absurdism.
He is a tidy little stage performer, light on his feet, the voice fluting but clear."

"Towards the end, The Player has a line 'it was merely competent'. I would go a little further than that. Mr Radcliffe is certainly competent. But his fans may struggle with the play."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"By allowing others to provide the fireworks and observing them with a benign sensitivity, [Radcliffe] holds the action together. Yet he still manages to revel in a few puckish moments – as when he cries ‘Fire!’ and then boasts that he’s been demonstrating the misuse of free speech."

"By contrast Joshua McGuire is a perpetually flustered Guildenstern, wide-eyed and fidgety, like a schoolboy who can’t decide whether he’s the class joker or its great genius."

"The first half of David Leveaux’s production is long yet smartly paced. The shorter second half lacks this zip."

"But it remains strange and charming, always clever and sometimes soulful."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead runs at The Old Vic runs until 29 April.