The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 5, 6, 7 & 8, 2011.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
by Tom Stoppard
Tom Harris – Rosencrantz
Guy Steddon – Guildenstern
Andy Etter – Hamlet
Sophie Lane – Ophelia
David Creedon – Claudius
Hazel Starns – Gertrude
Bob Ryder – Polonius
Luke Mepham – Player
Laurence Brown – Alfred
Luke Mepham – Soldier
Judith Berrill – Horatio
Gill Medway – Ambassador
Natalie Notley – Player Leader
Gill Medway – Player
Judith Berrill – Player
James Doyle – Player
Hazel Starns – Player
Sophie Lane – Player
Bob Ryder – Player
Joe Gibbs – Player
Assistant to Director – Fiona Cameron
Stage Manager – Martin Oakley
Deputy Stage Manager – Hem Cleveland
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Jack Hudson
Sound – Isi Fink
Properties – Oubah Romana
Properties – Margaret Davy
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Zoey Attree
Set Design & Construction – Sue Chaplin
Set Design & Construction – Dave Collis
Set Design & Construction – David Comber
Set Design & Construction – Carl Gray
Set Design & Construction – Peter Harrison
Set Design & Construction – Sheila Neesham
Set Design & Construction – Martin Oakley
Set Design & Construction – Margaret Davy
Design – Natalie Notley
Publicity – Anna Quick
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
NN wrote: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are constantly bewildered at finding themselves caught up in a much bigger drama – Shakespeare’s Hamlet – in which they play only a minor part. Their old college friend Hamlet happens to be the Prince of Denmark. They are summoned to court to find that Hamlet’s father has suddenly died, and that his uncle has taken over the throne and has promptly married Hamlet’s mother.
The new king, Claudius, asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out what they can about Hamlet’s state of mind – which understandably is a bit unbalanced by recent events. Has Hamlet gone mad – or is he just pretending, as a cunning tactic before seeking revenge on Claudius and his mother?
When a troupe of actors arrives at court, Hamlet gets them to stage a play, revealing that he must have murdered Hamlet’s father to seize the throne. He packs Hamlet off to England, with secret instructions that the English king should have Hamlet put to death. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are ordered to escort Hamlet there by sea, but Hamlet still has more tricks to pull.
By the end of Shakespeare’s play, however, Hamlet himself is dead – and so are his wicked uncle Claudius, his mother Gertrude, his former girlfriend Ophelia, her father Polonius and her brother Laertes. And so too, we are told in passing are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
That’s what tragedy is all about…”
Review #1: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Sheena Campbell
Text Header: Unknown
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is arguably one of the best-known plays of its time. A lesser known tale is that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – the two friends sent to spy on Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. These two characters were explored by Wick Theatre Company in their latest production – Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. With quick-fire humour, witty banter and clever themes running throughout, the performance I saw on Thursday night was a great success.
One of the central themes of the play was the idea that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern came into existence only when they were mentioned in Hamlet. Therefore, in this production, they have no memories from before the summons to court. This idea of living outside of the action was reinforced by the set, designed to look like a backstage area.
Tom Harris and Guy Steddon should be congratulated on their mastery of the subtle word play in this production. It was unfortunate Tony Brownings had to pull out of the rôle of The Player, owing to serious injury, but the director, Natalie Notley, filled the gap admirably.
My only criticism would be the second act seemed slightly long, without moving the action forward in the fluid way seen in the first act.
Review #2: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: October 10 2011
Reviewer: Louise Schweitzer
Tom Stoppard’s first play with words, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, was written more than 40 years ago for the National Theatre. Two minor characters from Hamlet take centre stage with a dazzling display of verbal pyrotechnics but no modern mastery can save them from Shakespeare: neither switching rôles, gambling with chance or tossing coins can dodge their ultimate fate.
The Wick Theatre Company, based at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, have tackled Stoppard before with award-winning Arcadia in 1999. This lively, enterprising and well-supported troupe stage drama, farce, comedy and musical theatre with four or five productions annually. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is their 2011 entry for the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards.
It is difficult to believe they could have any serious competition.
Principals Tom Harris and Guy Steddon as the interchangeable Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are an astonishing tour de force. Onstage for the entire, long drama, and frequently on their own, their range of vocal variety and the ratatat delivery of complex and confusing philosophy played as fast tennis had the audience on Wednesday shell-shocked.
Director Natalie Notley was obliged to wear two hats and take the rôle of The Player at short notice: her travelling troupe of actors swashed and buckled in barrels and boats to hilarious effect in a play within a play about a play. Andy Etter’s lanky Hamlet makes comic a rôle not normally regarded as such, leaving David Creedon with sufficient contrasting gravitas as Claudius.
Clever lighting and ingenious sound effects make props irrelevant – the minimal set serves to highlight the wondrous acting on show.
A little dated, very brave, breathtakingly well done.
Review #3: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Publication: Latest 7 – online
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Lee Stevens
Stoppard does Beckett but at twice the length! R&G went through the boredom (a feeling I fully appreciated) of life whilst waiting for their ‘rôles’ to come to fruition, questioning each other with mind games and word play, exploring existentialism through the sometimes absurdity/banality of their time on earth. The boredom isn’t exactly the cast’s fault; the script is too long (almost 3 hours!) and almost unact-able. An out-of-context (as was some of the music) Python-esque Hamlet (Shakespeare’s play formed the background to this) jarred against the production, distorting the overall look. Hats off to the two main actors, onstage throughout, worked hard and had great rapport.
Review #4: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Publication: N.O.D.A – National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Reviewer: Phillip Hall – Regional representative for South East Region District 1 [Mid Sussex] Text: Content
Only a company with a considerable depth of talent available to them would take on the challenge that Tom Stoppard presents with this play. Once again, Wick Theatre Company rose to the occasion with great credit.
I felt that the whole production was beyond criticism. My own slow realisation that we were looking at a backstage set may have added to my confusion over the many subtle lighting changes but neither were probably shared by the more informed members of the audience.
Having been privileged to be present during the profession adjudication, I feel that any comment I may have would be mere repetition and it might be presumptuous to add anything. However, my one observation would be that the adjudicator was rightly generous in his praise of Guy Steddon’s performance as Rosencrantz, but I am sure it was an oversight that Tom Harris was not given equal credit for his Guildenstern. I thought that they both interpreted their rôles admirably dealing with vast amounts of dialogue with great confidence.
It would be remiss of me not to extend congratulations to Natalie Notley, not only in her capacity as Director but also for her performance as ‘The Player’. At such short notice this was a remarkable performance.
Congratulations to all concerned. This was first class entertainment with sound individual performances from all the cast with well judged changes of pace successfully bringing out all the humour.