For a while, I've been attending the wonderful National Theatre Live events, and highly recommend them. These are productions done at the National Theatre in London and beamed live around the world to participating movie theater, done in high-definition so the video quality is vibrant. The one's I've attended, though, have not been actually "live" (because of either time differences or scheduling conflicts or who knows what reason), but delayed a week or so, sometimes longer. And occasionally they've brought back some of their classic productions, so they've been several years after the fact. But the presentation is exactly the same as what was initially sent out live. And they've all been terrific. You can find out more about what's upcoming near you here.
(Two that I'm aware of that are scheduled for the coming months are the play Obsession that stars Jude Law, and what looks to be a very inventive production of Peter Pan.)
Yesterday afternoon, I went to see the play that brought Tom Stoppard to fame, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, which starred Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire.
The production was extremely good, and Daniel Radcliffe was, as well. I’d never seen the play before, and quite enjoyed it – the second act more. And the acting was all terrific. Radcliffe did a very nice job as Rosencrantz, but I was impressed by his co-star Joshua McGuire perhaps because I’d never heard of him before. (It may even be the more flamboyant part, which makes it impressive that Radcliffe is willing to take the less flashy role, though equally important.) Also, I was taken with a fellow named David Haig who plays “The Player” (the head of the troupe of actors who come to Elsinore) who is chew-the-scenery wonderful. I didn't think I knew him either – but when I went online to his iMDB listing, I recognized him there. The most notable thing I know him from was in Two Week’s Notice as Hugh Grant’s brother, which is a very subdued and laid-back role, wildly different.
(I will assume that many here know the play, but if not, it centers on two very minor characters from Hamlet and takes what Shakespeare wrote for them in his play and mixes it with what Stoppard has developed is going on with their lives outside of their action in Hamlet. Blending the two is very clever, funny, serious and heavily over-laden with word play and philosophy on the meaning of fate and chance as is Stoppard’s style.)
Here's a very brief preview for the production with a hint of what is a long, running bit throughout the play.
Oddly, it seemed like about 15-20% of the audience left at intermission. As I said, I enjoyed the second act more (so they missed that), but it wasn’t like the first act was “bad” – it wasn’t remotely, it’s enjoyable, though it’s Stoppard at his most theoretical with word play, so it takes a bit to settle in.
You might enjoy this amusing video. They showed it before the play began – it’s Radcliffe and his co-star McGuire taking the audience on a tour of the Old Vic theatre in London and talking about the play.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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