Play by Tom Stoppard. A verbally scintillating and richly inventive play that retells Shakespeare's Hamlet through the eyes of two of its minor characters. Vaguely conscious that they are bit parts in a much bigger story of which they have no direct knowledge, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hilariously and poignantly inhabit a world completely beyond their grasp.
Original West End Production 1967 /1970
Opened 11 April 1967, Closed 22 October 1970 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre
The original cast featured John Stride as 'Rosencrantz', Edward Petherbridge as 'Guildenstern', Graham Crowden as 'The Player King', with Alan Adams as 'Player', Oliver Cotton as 'Player', Neil Fitzpatrick as 'Player', Luke Hardy as 'Player', Roger Kemp as 'Player', John McEnery as 'Hamlet', Caroline John as 'Ophelia', Kenneth Mackintosh as 'Claudius', Mary Griffiths as 'Gertrude', Peter Cellier as 'Polonius', David Bailie as 'Fortinbras', David Hargreaves as 'Horatio', and David Ryall as 'Ambassador'.
Directed by Derek Goldby with designs by Desmond Heeley, lighting by Richard Pilbrow and music by Marc Wilkinson.
Presented by the National Theatre.
London Young Vic Revival 1973 /1975
Opened 20 March 1973, Closed 7 June 1975 (in repertory) at the Young Vic Theatre
The original cast featured Nicky Henson as 'Rosencrantz', Andrew Robertson as 'Guildenstern', Gavin Reed as 'The Player King' (the cast also included Ian Charleson as 'Hamlet').
Directed by Bernard Goss with designs by John MacFarlane, lighting by David Watson and music by Jeremy James Taylor. This production, in a re-cast staging, transferred to the West End's Criterion Theatre in August 1975.
1st West End Revival 1975 / 1976
Opened 4 August 1975, Closed 13 March 1976 at the Criterion Theatre
The original cast featured Christopher Timothy as 'Rosencrantz', Richard O'Callaghan as 'Guildenstern' and Philip Locke as 'The Player King'.
Directed by Bernard Goss with sets by Brenda Hartill Moores, costumes by John MacFarlane, lighting by John B Read and music by Jeremy James Taylor. This was a re-cast transfer from the Young Vic Theatre.
London Young Vic Revival 1977 / 1981
Opened 31 May 1977, Closed 7 November 1981 (in repertory) at the Young Vic Theatre
The original cast featured Paul Kelly as 'Rosencrantz', Robert East as 'Guildenstern' and David Henry as 'The Player King'.
Directed by Jeremy James Taylor.
2nd West End Revival 1987
Previewed 9 June 1987, Opened 15 June 1987, Closed 19 September 1987 at the Piccadilly Theatre
The original cast featured Stephen Frost as 'Rosencrantz', Mark Arden as 'Guildenstern' and Lionel Blair as 'The Player King'.
Directed by Peter Wilson.
Stephen Frost and Mark Arden AKA 'The Oblivion Boys' were a 1980s television comedy double act.
A Nottingham Playhouse / Mobil Touring production.
London National Theatre Revival 1995
Previewed 8 December 1995, Opened 14 December 1995, Closed 20 August 1996 (in repertory) at the NT Lyttelton Theatre
The original cast featured Adrian Scarborough as 'Rosencrantz', Simon Russell Beale as 'Guildenstern', Alan Howard as 'The Player King' and Paul Rattigan as 'Hamlet'.
Directed by Matthew Francis with designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Howard Harrison and music by Mia Soteriou.
3rd West End Revival 2011
Previewed 16 June 2011, Opened 21 June 2011, Closed 20 August 2011 at the Haymarket Theatre
The cast for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in London features Samuel Barnett as 'Rosencrantz', Jamie Parker as 'Guildenstern' and Chris Andrew Mellon as 'The Player KIng'along with Michael Benz, Tomm Coles, Trevor Allan Davies, Zac Fox, Fiona Gillies, Tom Golding, Charlie Hamblett, Jack Hawkins, Elisabeth Hopper, Andrew Jarvis, Greg Last, Jody Elen Machin, James Northcote, Stephen Pallister, Katherine Press, James Simmons and Keith Thompson.
Directed by Trevor Nunn with designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Steven Edis and sound by Paul Groothuis. This production transfers to London's West End following a season at the Chichester Festival Theatre in West Sussex from May to June 2011. Tim Curry was originally scheduled to appear as 'The Player King', but unfortunately he was forced to drop out of this production during previews at Chichester due to ill health.
"'Every exit is an entrance somewhere else'. That is the rationale of this 1967 jeu d'esprit about the ineffectual pair on the fringes of the Elsinore action... The play, though, feels top heavy with circular, over-smart duologue, even when directed by Trevor Nunn and played with conviction... The players' dumb-show is very funny, the music perfect, Tim Mitchell's lighting design nonpareil - vanishing arches, stars, bars of light converging towards infinity, pitch-black moments and eerily lit faces. Many lines remain treasurable... but I can't help thinking that just as Stoppard irreverently played with Shakespeare, it is time someone treated his oeuvre with equal disrespect and summarily speeded things up a bit." The Times
"Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, Sir Tom Stoppard's play in which he brings two traitorous minor characters from Hamlet to the fore, pushing all the other characters into the background, is a rather brilliant idea. One of the jokes is that every actor, regardless of the size of their part, tends to think they're pivotal... It's obviously clever and occasionally witty, punctuated with some excellent jokes, and it includes a stunning and hilarious precis of Hamlet... But even with a fine cast and, at the centre, two exceptional actors, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker from The History Boys, it feels tediously sowhattish, neither intriguing nor enlightening. A show for dramatic archaeologists only." The Mail on Sunday
"Trevor Nunn's new production is not perfect - I wonder if Stoppard, like Shakespeare, might benefit from some judicious pruning. But the two leads, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker, invest the knockabout humour (influenced by Godot via music hall) with a touching emotional desperation, as they face down the philosophical conundrum of free will and the inevitability of death. Yet the real powerhouse is Chris Andrew Mellon as the seedy Player, marshalling his raggle-taggle troupe of wandering thespians. It is a terrifyingly morbid play for a man in his late twenties to have written; but set against this Stoppard's delight in showing off what he knows, and the sheer generosity of language, and it amounts to a powerful humanist defiance of the dying of the light." The Sunday Telegraph
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 16 June 2011, opened on 21 June 2011 and closed on 20 August 2011.
4th West End Revival 2017
Previewed 25 February 2017, Opened 7 March 2017, Closed 6 May 2017 at the Old Vic Theatre
A major 50th Anniversary revival of Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in London starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire
The cast features Daniel Radcliffe as 'Rosencrantz' and Joshua McGuire as 'Guildenstern' with David Haig as 'The Player' and Luke Mullins as 'Hamlet' along with Hermeilio Miguel Aquino as 'Courtier', William Chubb as 'Polonius', Matthew Durkan as 'Alfred', Wil Johnson as 'Claudius', Theo Ogundipe as 'Horatio', Marianne Oldham as 'Gertrude', Helena Wilson as 'Ophelia' and Louisa Beadel, Josie Dunn, Tim van Eyken, Evlyne Oyedokun and Alex Sawyer as the 'Players'.
Directed by David Leveaux with movement by Lizzi Gee, sets by Anna Fleischle, costumes by Anna Fleischle and Loren Elstein, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Corin Buckeridge, sound by Fergus O'Hare and illusions by Paul Kieve. This production marks the 50th Anniversary since this play was first presented in London's West End at the Old Vic Theatre in April 1967.
Daniel Radcliffe's West End credits include Michael Grandage's revival of Martin McDonagh's black comedy Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2013 and Thea Sharrock's revival of Peter Shaffer's play Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in 2007. Daniel Radcliffe is best known for playing the title role in the Harry Potter series of films. Joshua McGuire's London credits include Matthew Warchus' premiere of Tamsin Oglesby's play Future Conditional at The Old Vic Theatre in 2015, Jamie Lloyd's revival of Peter Barnes' comedy The Ruling Class Trafalgar Studios in 2014 and Laura Wade's play Posh at the Royal Court Theatre in 2010 and at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2012.
When this revival opened in March 2017, Michael Billington in the Guardian explained how "fifty years after its professional premiere at this very theatre, Tom Stoppard’s philosophical comedy still shines brightly. It helps that this revival stars Daniel Radcliffe, who is perfectly matched by Joshua McGuire, and that David Leveaux’s production is nimble and inventive. But it is the wit of the young Stoppard that keeps the play fresh and alive... Good as Radcliffe and McGuire are, it is David Haig who comes close to stealing the evening. Even if the action briefly stalls in the final third, Leveaux’s production keeps the momentum going and is full of witty touches." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper hailed "David Leveaux’s brilliant anniversary revival of the play... which is terrifically well-judged in all departments." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph thought that "David Leveaux's cast serve the highbrow antics and music-hall larks, the nods to Beckett and the hints of Beyond the Fringe brilliantly. It's not a side-splitting evening but it tickles just as it should... The pacing is fleet, the timing slick, and memorable moments are in sufficiently plentiful supply." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard commented how, "fifty years on from its London premiere at the Old Vic, Tom Stoppard’s breakthrough play returns there and still has a witty vitality. It’s a game of intellectual ping-pong, an acrobatic pageant of ideas that’s also deeply sad... The first half of David Leveaux’s production is long yet smartly paced. The shorter second half lacks this zip... but it remains strange and charming, always clever and sometimes soulful." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail highlighted that "it is highbrow dialogue, packed with philosophy and riffs on probability that reek of undergraduate look-at-me intellectualism... David Leveaux’s production is helped by solid support acting from David Haig as the Player, Luke Mullins as Hamlet and William Chubb as Polonius." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times noted that "Tom Stoppard’s breakthrough play, revived for the golden jubilee of its London premiere on the same stage, is (as one character describes it) the usual stuff, only inside out... David Leveaux’s production canters along (perhaps too swiftly at times) and takes delight in both the wordplay and the metatheatrical business." Ann Treneman in the Times said that "Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire bounce off each other like Spacehoppers on a day out. McGuire is hyper, Radcliffe beset with permanent anxiety. You don’t have to have seen Hamlet itself to appreciate the way they wander round gloomy old Denmark, befuddled... This play is wordy, witty and, at times, too much of both. David Leveaux, the director, mostly paces it well, though there are moments where it’s not only R and G who seem a bit lost. But it soon gets back on track."
"Quite what Harry Potter fans will make of this 50th anniversary production of Tom Stoppard's existential take on Hamlet is hard to say. Yes, it boasts a notably compact and sinewy Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz, and he's very good in a contained, underplayed, inwardly anxious kind of way. But the action consists largely of two short blokes (the other one is Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern) standing on a huge stage worrying about what is to become of them. A spectacular and magic-packed fight between good and evil, it is not. In Shakespeare's tragedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the well-meaning mugs ordered by Hamlet's uncle - now the king - to spy on his brooding nephew. They are later sent to England as part of a conspiracy to kill Hamlet, which ends with their executions instead. So you can see why in Stoppard's play, which places these two victims of circumstance centre stage while Shakespeare's scenes flit in and out of view, they are haunted by a premonition that things will not end well. It's a brilliantly crafted, endlessly witty meditation on how on earth we are each meant to know what roles we are supposed to play - if not in Hamlet, then life. And as Radcliffe's Rosencrantz blinks into the stage lights in the hope of seeing a friendly future you can sense the rising panic as it dawns on the duo that they have no control over their fate. Yet both are upstaged in David Leveaux's production by a brilliant David Haig as the streetwise leader of a troupe of actors. He can tell you as much about death as the gravedigger in Hamlet." The London Metro
"An inventive, outstanding production by David Leveaux - unlike some previous productions, which have tended to meander and revel too much in the intellectual high jinks, Leveaux’s has a welcome sense of drive as the two courtiers express their alarm at being bit-part players in someone else’s drama, the meaning of which they don’t understand... Daniel Radcliffe is the sweet, forgetful one, who is invariably rooted to the spot and too often mumbles into his chest. In contrast, Joshua McGuire bustles about as Guildenstern, his anxiety betrayed by the mirthless grin on his face... It’s a Kafka-esque world in which those who speak Shakespeare’s lines can barely be understood. As a matinee-idol Hamlet, Luke Mullins has little to say, but a wonderfully languid way of lifting an eyebrow. Stoppard’s play remains extraordinarily full of life, considering it is so preoccupied with its ending." The Sunday Times
"Two of Shakespeare's bit players find themselves centre stage as the world's most celebrated tragedy is reworked into an absurdist comedy, unleashing a coruscating cascade of wordplay and ideas... Tom Stoppard sets their fixed roles in the source play against the independent life with which he imbues them to pose perennial questions about predestination and free will... Rosencrantz is played - extremely well - by Daniel Radcliffe, one of the most recognisable young actors on the planet. He is expertly partnered by Joshua McGuire as the more suspicious and cynical Guildenstern. They are matched by David Haig's gloriously raffish Player in David Leveaux's razor-sharp production." The Sunday Express
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 25 February 2017, opened on 7 March 2017 and closes on 6 May 2017