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After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, is Daniel Radcliffe ready for Hamlet?

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Manuel Harlan

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Joshua McGuire and Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Daniel Radcliffe says he is really keen to be in a Shakespeare play – although he admits he’s no expert on the Bard.

The Harry Potter star has been praised for his latest role in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at London’s Old Vic.

Tom Stoppard’s comedy, first performed in 1966, centres around two minor characters from Hamlet.

“My knowledge of Shakespeare is pretty limited,” Radcliffe told the BBC after Tuesday’s opening night.

“In this company, we’ve been talking about Hamlet a lot. And I am by far one of the least educated people on Shakespeare and Hamlet.”

The 27-year-old actor said he didn’t want to tackle a Shakespearean role for the sake of it.

“I never want to be feeling like I want to do that role so I can tick it off a list.

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Manuel Harlan

“There has to be something about the role or production that feels vital, that I feel I could bring something to.

“With Hamlet, there’s a part of me that says I’ve seen Jude Law and Ben Whishaw do this and they were great. I don’t know what I would bring to it.”

He added with a laugh: “You can throw this quote back at me in a few years when I’m playing Hamlet!”

Radcliffe’s previous stage plays include Equus, Privacy and The Cripple of Inishmaan. He has also appeared in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a musical.

In his latest play he plays Rosencrantz opposite Joshua McGuire’s Guildenstern, with David Haig on scene-stealing form as The Player.

Directed by David Leveaux, the production comes 50 years after its Old Vic premiere.


Here’s how it went down with the critics.

The Guardian‘s Michael Billington said: “The cheering fact is that this is a young man’s play that still seems sprightly, invigorating and even moving in its preoccupation with the inevitability of death.

“Even if the action briefly stalls in the final third, Leveaux’s production keeps the momentum going.”

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Manuel Harlan

Writing in The Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish said: “The pacing is fleet, the timing slick, and memorable moments are in sufficiently plentiful supply.”

He awarded the production four stars, adding: “In the wrong hands, the combination of existential angst and in-jokiness could become tedious.

“But Leveaux’s cast serve the combination of high-brow antics and music-hall larks, the nods to Beckett, the hints of Beyond the Fringe brilliantly.”

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Manuel Harlan

The Daily Mail‘s Quentin Letts praised Radcliffe’s performance but was less keen on the play as a whole, awarding the production three stars.

“[Radcliffe] is game to try to escape type-casting by throwing himself into this quasi-Beckett absurdism,” he writes.

“He is a tidy little stage performer, light on his feet, the voice fluting but clear.”

But, he noted, some Harry Potter fans who have bought tickets may struggle with the play as a whole.

Ann Treneman also praised Radcliffe in her four star review for The Times.

“It’s a joy to report that Daniel Radcliffe plays Rosencrantz with all the confidence of a man who has no idea who he is,” she said.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is at the Old Vic until 29 April.


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