After the success of Much Ado About Nothing last October, the creative team behind the production reunited to produce Sir Tom Stoppard’s all-time favourite comedy, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. I was thrilled to be offered the part of Guildenstern, and even more excited to see Jonny Syer, who played Dogberry in Much Ado, taking on the part of Rosencrantz.
The play sounds like a hard sell. An existential exploration and a literary exploitation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, you could not imagine the pitch ever making it past a board of TV or Film executives as the jump-off for a comedy. Another triumph for the theatre, then, as the play has long been considered a rich and inventive feast of wordplay, wit, and slapstick whilst exploring timeless questions of identity and illusion, free will and fate.
It is, however, very easy to become intimidated when staring down a script of its magnitude. Perhaps the biggest part I have played to date, and in a very different style and character to my comfort zone, I was very aware that this would be no slight undertaking. I was grateful to discover that I was not alone in this feeling.
The challenges we all faced through our preparations were too numerous to mention, and at times, made our efforts feel uncertain and even perilous. For many of us involved in Much Ado, we were setting out not just to match, but to beat the high bar we had set ourselves. It was only as a team, with everything firing on all cylinders, that we could hope to make that lofty dream a reality.
Thankfully (and with a mix of relief and elation for all) the show was a resounding success, and broke box office records, ending the run with night after night of sold out audiences, whose feedback and support was both welcome and overwhelming. Here are some of the reviews we have received for the show (click the publication to read more):
“Does full justice to the brilliant source material… a joy to watch… a triumph…” Now Then Magazine
“A very funny play… the two main characters spar off each other like an Elizabethan two stooges while the louche antics of the wandering players are deliciously silly.” **** Dig Yorkshire
“Hilarious… terrific… staggeringly poignant.” Sheffield Star
Jonny, the superb Rosencrantz, comes from an improv comedy background and will be playing the Edinburgh Fringe, where Stoppard’s play first found an audience 45 years ago. His spontaneity and unique approach to the play added so much hilarity and verve to the experience that it cannot be overstated, while directors Martin Derbyshire and Kay Guccione honed performances from all involved into a complementary and cohesive whirling dervish, and that same attitude came through from the camaraderie backstage. It’s been an honour to share the better part of three months building something so joyous together.