Friday, April 21, 2017

How can it be that I get to the age of 41, liking all that I like, and I haven't (hadn't) seen Tom Stoppard's classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead? I'm ashamed to say that what finally lured me in was not a feted production or a remarkable retelling - but instead, Daniel Radcliffe. (And Ross who saw it for real in London and spoke highly of it.)

But I'm so very glad I did. The Old Vic's retelling of it struck this newcomer as pitch perfect. It looked gorgeous - interestingly seamless which makes sense when you clock that the clever Anna Fleischle designed both set and costumes. 

The acting was exquisite. I loved the languid Hamlet and the histrionic but beautifully dressed Ophelia. The players were picturesque and dissolute and delivered a finely laconic jazz that, despite costuming, wasn't remotely Elizabethan. The Player was wondrous. David Haig had a wonderful pathos and bathos as the sinister, soft-hearted but iron-willed puppet master. (The final tableau was just exquisitely wickedly lovely.) 

Joshua McGuire was a labrador puppy of Guildensterns. And I lost my heart to real-life Daniel Radcliffe in Equus in London some years ago (TEN years ago to my total and utter horror) but he continues to prove that he's as fine a feeling actor as a technical actor in this film of a real-life play. Based on my brief brush with it, it strikes me that it would be easy to play Rosencrantz as oafish but he wasn't. He was just a little confused but so was I - so that was ok.

Gorgeous, accomplished, aplomb-ish  production aside, the script is oh my life how have I gone all my days not knowing this script and having seen this script, what on earth am I thinking when I think that I should ever bother picking up a metaphorical pen in the first place-ish. What a script. I wonder whether he had the idea first and then chose Hamlet or chose Hamlet and then constructed the idea. I can scarcely piece together what I think all the fragments and witticisms and insights and intelligences might mean. (We're just puppets. That's not quite right. We're just a bit pointless is maybe closer to it.) But I don't know that I care because it will lurk in the corners of my head for days to come now and isn't that just exactly what you want a piece of theatre to do?


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