National Theatre Live (encore)
13 July 7pm

It’s over fifty years since Tom Stoppard’s debut play premiered at the Edinburgh fringe, and it’s fascinating to the re-examine what the precocious talent of a twenty something playwright turned his talents to at the height of the swinging sixties.

David Leveaux’s production positions the play somewhere between Waiting for Godot and Bottom, and leans heavily on the comic timing and delivery of its two leads. While Daniel Radcliffe is the main box office draw, and acquits himself well as an anxious, diffident Rosencrantz, it is Joshua McGuire’s Guildenstern that does most of the comic heavy lifting. They both work hard to draw out the humour from Stoppard’s literate, knowing text, but it is David Haig’s performance that stands out, stealing every scene he appears in. His Player is reminiscent of Fagin, with the fruity voice of a failed tragedian and the ever roving hands of a man comfortable abusing his position.

A working knowledge of Hamlet is certainly helpful in getting all the in-jokes, but the play’s central idea remains clear enough. As two minor characters wonder quite what the point of their existence is, Leveaux’s nibble and inventive revival leaves the audience in no doubt of the wider meta-narrative being played out.

Tickets £12 / Under 18s £10 book online here