Review – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Ah yes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Another thing with regard to which we are way behind the curve so we won’t labour things.

Suffice to say that Mr Tom Stoppard ‘s too-clever-by-half and slightly over-extended mash-up of Beckett and Shakespeare is made highly palatable thanks to a delightful production and a fine cast.

Former History Boys Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker (Where’s he been? He’s brilliant.) play the hapless titular minor Hamlet characters, discombobulated by the lack of free will in their universe.

An unimportant pair of chaps in the general scheme of theatrical doings, they seek a purpose, are frequently bored, bothered and bewildered as they’re forced to witness the unfolding drama. Yet churlishly they pass opinion on it and become involved even though they’d much rather be at home. You see, even the Whingers are written into the meta-theatricality of it all.

The charisma(s)  of R & G is/are well-matched by the wonderful Chris Andrew Mellon who camps it up with an edge of danger as The Player King. He replaced Tim Curry who was forced to pull out due to health problems. Then there is a raft of supporting players and the whole thing is coddled in Tim Mitchell’s marvellously mercurial lighting. Trevor Nunn brings the thing in at about two hours 40 minutes (far less than we feared).

The only question we had at the end was: Why has the Theatre Royal Haymarket jammed Glade air fresheners behind the hand-rails in the corridor leading to the stalls? Are the ushers overdue on their laundry? Or was it Nancy Dell’Olio marking her territory in some way? Most peculiar.


Premium seats are available at £81 in Stalls and Royal Circle but we got Day Seats with extensive legroom in the front row of the stalls for £21.


4 Responses to “Review – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Theatre Royal Haymarket”

  1. Great review! Thanks! I agree that in particular about Parker – he was just brilliant, the real star of the show.

    While it didn’t delviern anything groundbreaking, it was certainly an excellent 4 star show – well worth seeing!

  2. SD Says:

    He’s been at the Globe for the last two summers – Prince Hal opposite Roger Allam’s Falstaff last year. And both pretty damn brilliant in that too.

  3. Still reporting back from the Shires, he was in last year’s Northampton production of My Zinc Bed, where he was definitely the best thing in it, and also in the Sheffield Crucible’s brilliant Racing Demon last March, where he was magnificently unhinged as the over zealous young vicar.

  4. My thoughts exactly – and better expressed.

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