Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

By Tom Stoppard

I saw this play acted by some Meadows students earlier this year and loved it, so when it came time to vote for the final play to be read in my Shakespeare class I argued hard to get Rosencrantz and Guildenstern chosen. Now that I’ve read it, I’m conflicted. Apparently the production that I saw took a significant number of artistic liberties: jokes, callbacks to those jokes, and even entire conversations that appeared in that stage production are not, apparently, in the script.

And, while I still definitely enjoyed reading the play, I could not help but feel that this is not a play meant to be read. I suppose that is true of all plays, but I think it is true of this one especially. The witty back and forth between R and G about who has what name is severely diminished by the fact that, in the text, the name of the character of course appears abbreviated before each of his lines. The anger and fear of the characters as they sprint towards their deaths is not adequately captured in the stage direction angrily. I almost wish that I had not read this play, but not quite. Just almost.