(Seen at the afternoon performance on 27th March 2017).
Daniel Radcliffe is pure theatrical Calpol in this revival of the wordy
Stoppard experiment. Popular, easy to take and mild in effect. He's perfectly
pleasant as Rosencrantz, co-explorer of the author's world of plays and players
with friend Guildenstern - a slightly edgier Joshua McGuire. The pair have their
moments - the verbal tennis match is excellent - and they have been practising
with coins, but when required to take a controlling stage presence, Radcliffe in
particular has more an air of "lucky to be here."
The reality is somewhat cruelly exposed by David Haig. His masterly The
Player is from, of and ever will be the STAGE. His troupe can play anything -
death being most effective in all variations (particularly Haig's) and he gives
the young pair a masterclass in how to take charge of an audience. The problem
rather highlights the need for an older and more experienced R&G, in fact.
Some good support from the Danes - Luke Mullins and Helena Wilson are a fun
Hamlet and Ophelia (her debut), Will Johnson (Claudius), Marianne Oldham
(Gertrude), William Chubb (Polonius) and Theo Ogundipe (Horatio) also engaging
beautifully enough with the language to make the monkey rather hope the play
would spin off into the original. Mention too for The Player's troupe, a
flexible bunch in all respects.
Anna Fleischle and Loren Elstein deserve a nod for the costumes (The Player's
is sumptuous), and a note for director David Leveaux for keeping the play
moving. Moreover, he had the monkey thinking how few plays today play with words
and concepts, rather than narcissistic self-examination of personal experiences.
That was refreshing too.
If the flaw was inexperience, the joy was experiencing a modern classic.
There's nothing new or vibrant enough about this particular production to
declare it definitive or ground-breaking, but it has a watchable confidence that
merits a visit.