The downside of reading a play, rather than watching it, is that it takes a few re-reads to fully understand the story. For someone who finds it extremely difficult to re-read anything, you can understand how I feel as if I have not comprehended the nuance of the few plays I have read.
I’m looking at you Hamlet.
Having finally read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – followed these two bit players through there confusion and bitty philosophy – I’ve realised it’s time for change. I need to re-read both this and Hamlet.
‘Hamlet told from the worm’s-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.’ GoodReads.
By the time I reached Act Two the plot fell into place, I had found my baring. It’s a rather witty tale. A play worthy of quoting and reading aloud, which I did, much to the confusion of my family.
Player: The old man thinks he’s in love with his daughter.
Ros (appalled): Good God! We’re out of our depth here.
Player: No, no, no — he hasn’t got a daughter– the old man thinks he’s in love with his daughter.
Oh, the hilarity of semantics.
Ros: We might as well be dead, Do you think death could possibly a boat?
Guil: No, no, no…. Death is…. not. Death isn’t. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not-be on a boat.
Ros: I’ve frequently not been on boats.
Taking two minor characters and setting the story around them is brilliance. Tom Stoppard is a creative genius. Reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead both makes me want to destroy any of my awful ‘creative’ work while simultaneously want to create something brilliant. I feels so confused.
This isn’t much of a review really, more a ‘read this play!’ Then go watch it, then watch Hamlet, then re-read both.
I’ve always appreciated Shakespeare, but it’s taken Stoppard to get me to like him.
Now I’m off to write a version of Persuasion from the point of view of Anne Elliot’s bonnet.
Have you read this play? Do you enjoy Shakespeare?