IT may be 50 years since Tom Stoppard’s seminal work Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was first staged but a new revival now on at the Old Vic shows it still has plenty of life in it.
The story is about the two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who find themselves on the outskirts of the play and in many ways, life itself.
Full of emotion and with an ending that is rather poignant, it has a whiff of Waiting For Godot about it all as the two try and make sense of their lot, with plenty of verbal sparring and discussion as they wait for things to happen.
As their own story develops, a production of Hamlet is staged somewhere in the background, dipping in and out of the proceedings. Added to the mix is a troupe of players who find themselves involved and perform a play for the King.
This particular production stars Mr Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz alongside Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern and they complement each other perfectly.
Radcliffe is really good, the foil and straight man to McGuire’s fidgety, constantly chatty and more intellectually gifted Guildenstern. With his pauses, vacant stares into the middle distance, shrugs of his shoulder and perfect comic timing, Radcliffe shines in the role.
McGuire too is equally captivating but for different reasons - he paces the stage, constantly questioning, discussing and dissecting life and there’s an uncanny resemblance to actor Tom Hollander about him too.
They are joined by the ever excellent David Haig who, as the leader of the players, swaggers about the stage giving a masterclass in comic acting.
Although undoubtedly for many the draw with be seeing Daniel Radcliffe, this production, directed by David Leveaux, is terrific, and breathes new life into what is a gloriously wordy and brilliant play.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is on at the Old Vic, Waterloo until April 29. Tickets from £12. Visit www.oldvictheatre.com/ or call the box office on 0844 871 7628 for full listings.