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If you’ve never seen Hamlet, you may not have heard of these minor characters, treacherous old school friends of the Danish prince, who appear only briefly in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

But, 50 years ago, a young Tom Stoppard made his name when he side-lined the royals and placed this strangely monikered duo centre stage, postulating what they might have got up to behind the scenes as the main action unfolded offstage, mainly unseen by them or us.

Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire play off each other with ease as the similarly dressed eponymous courtiers (the one slightly baffled and literal-minded, the other of a more questioning and frantic bent) pondering life, death and what on earth is going on in Denmark and why they are where they are, stranded in an almost Beckett-like limbo land of pink clouds.

Occasionally, it feels like an excuse for Stoppard to show off his intellectual agility and trademark verbal dexterity, but there’s no denying the cleverness of the conceit as, every so often, bit-part performers Hamlet, Gertrude or Ophelia suddenly cross their path.  And, as The Player in charge of a white-faced troupe of actors, David Haig commands the stage - demonstrating a rather too unhealthy interest in boy actor Alfred and convincingly faking his own dying moments - in David Leveaux’s fleet, highly enjoyable production.

Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB

Tube: Waterloo

Until 29th April 2017     

Tickets £12.00- £65.00



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