Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Theatrical Interlude 10

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. June 2011

This was a spur of the moment theatre trip in many ways. A friend said shall we? and without knowing anything about the play I said 'sure' and so it came to pass.

It isn't a decision I regret at all. As I knew nothing about the play I did read it beforehand just so I knew what was going on and once I'd done this I really couldn't wait to see it.

When we got to the theatre we had a surprise, we actually had tickets for the Upper Circle but had been upgraded to the Royal Circle. I don't know if it is because of the industrial action on the day, or if weekday matinees are just less popular but even with the Upper Circle shut and people relocated the Royal Circle was still more than half empty.
I was a bit worried what this would do to the atmosphere but I needn't have worried. Perhaps because there were no school parties in the theatre was lovely and quiet and everyone seemed to 'get' all of the jokes and the performance felt very friendly.

From the very first scene I fell in love with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they are such bewildered characters, yet so wise. It helps that the two actors had fantastic chemistry together I think - when I read my programme in the interval I saw that they had both been in Alan Bennett's History Boys which would explain the familiarity and ease. They are on stage during pretty much every scene of the play and even then I could happily have watched more of them!

The players, who for me acted both as the comic relief and the narrator, were funny and completely over the top (in the best way). Having recently been to the Globe they felt very 'right' for travelling actors in Shakespearean times.

The weakest parts of the play for me were when the scenes from Hamlet were acted. I realised that the transition from modern speech to pure Shakespeare would be sudden but personally I felt that the actors acting Hamlet were melodramatic and out of step with the rest of the play somehow. Even so they were still good, just not as good as the others!

Throughout I was trying to recall what the play was reminding me of and then in a light bulb moment it came to me - the sparse setting and the questioning themes all made me think of Waiting for Godot. It was only afterwards when I read more about Stoppard and this play that I found out others had made this connection.

For a spur of the moment decision to see a play I wasn't disappointed. It was another resounding success.

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