Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shakespeare and Existentialism

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard


This play was recommended to me by another person in the company.  He, too, plans to go back to grad school for English eventually, but he wants to focus on creative writing.  I figured I'd check it out since I like re-imaginings of old stories and I like Shakespeare.  I love Margaret Atwood's piece "Gertrude Talks Back" which tells the story of Hamlet from Gertrude's perspective.


As the title suggest, the play is about the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and their view of the court and life during the play Hamlet.  Parts of it were funny, but I am not always that good at imagining what's happening on stage, so I'm sure it would have been a lot funnier performed since there seems to be quite a bit of slapstick in addition to the intellectual discussion on fate.  As the play progresses, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern realize that they have no free will or choice in their fate and are simply caught up in the action.  The back cover compares this play to Waiting for Godot, and I can understand it.  Of course, I'm not sure if that's really a comparison one should make if they are recommending something.  I didn't enjoy Waiting for Godot very much - there were definitely funny bits, and some entertaining play with language (in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as well), but it was just so pointless - I didn't see that one performed either.

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