If you like Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first?" routine, you are bound to love Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a delightful romp through word play and literary allusion. This play established the reputation of Tom Stoppard when it was first produced in 1966. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, is at least as complicated and as hard to follow as Arcadia, another Tom Stoppard play, but is far funnier. The play revolves around two minor characters in Hamlet. They stumble from one thing to another from Shakespeare's play and are at least as confused about what is happening to them as the audience is. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear to have no memories except for what pertains to the Hamlet. They work hard at avoiding their fate, but they seem to only be able to recall and act as they are told (both by the characters from Hamlet and by their author, Tom Stoppard).
In this way, Stoppard masterfully portrays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as classic bit-characters: innocent, confused bystanders who lie helpless before the events that flow around them. At first the audience, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, has no idea what's going on. But, as in Arcadia,things become clear as they wander through Shakespere's twisted world.
The curtains rise on R&G placing bets on the probability of a coin landing on "heads" or "tails."
Site Authors: Mike Hirobayashi and Jennifer Nou
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