ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
Chichester Festival Theatre
Under a the vast dark canopy of the sky, two men pass the time by a blasted tree. They try to make sense of the other characters who occasionally invade their stage.
Vladimir and Estragon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The Beckett influence couldn't be more clearly underlined in Trevor Nunn's slightly beige revival of Stoppard's intellectually dazzling footnote to Hamlet.
No real fireworks, even in the pirates' scene, but plenty of food for thought, lots of laughs.
History Boys graduates Sam Barnett and Jamie Parker are nicely contrasted, with Rosencrantz a shy, boyish foil to Guildenstern's stronger philosophical presence [so not really as interchangeable as the text suggests, then …]. Clearly marked as outsiders to the action, not least by the jeans incorporated into their Shakespearean costumes. The third name in the production, already booked into a West End transfer, was to have been Tim Curry. The swiftly promoted Chris Andrew Mellon makes an excellent Player, and may well acquire the extra edge of danger and decadence that I imagine Curry might have provided.
His band of travelling players, a mix, as they say of youth and experience, were very effective, wearily summoning the energy for another “exhibition” for the Court at Elsinore.
Simon Higlett's design was excellent, especially the suggestion of the labyrinthine corridors of the castle, and good use was made of the Chichester thrust, covered in dark wooden decking disappearing into a vanishing point.