“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are assuredly players but they’re pretty stumped as to which production they’re meant to be in. Not entirely sure if in fact a play exists or whether they are indeed figments of their own imaginations. The odd couple play an intriguingly inexpiable small role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet which morphed into the stars of Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Not only did Stoppard adapt it for film, he also directed; his only time behind the camera.
Rosencrantz (Gary Oldman) and Guildenstern (Tim Roth) find themselves on the road to Elsinore Castle at the behest of the King of Denmark. On the way they encounter a group of players led by Richard Dreyfuss. As childhood friends of Hamlet (Iain Glen), when they reach Elsinore they are entrusted with discovering what ails the prince. However, their detective skills leave a lot to be desired.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a fantastic play which translates beautifully on to the big screen. Stoppard does a great job on a tight budget and both Roth and Oldman are brilliant as the bumbling duo. Dreyfuss provides a great foil, as does Glen with his intermittent animated interruptions, but the film revolves around inspired central performances by two of Britain’s greatest living actors. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a blast, bringing all the joys of theatre directly into your home.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is released on DVD by RJL Entertainment on Monday.