Somehow I found the movie a while ago and I love it. The extras on the DVD told me it was a play first, so I dug up a copy of that. It's quite good.
For me, though, reading a play - any play - is tough. There's less context than in a novel, so (of course) more depends on the dialog. For me to really understand a play requires reading it many times, preferably aloud, and with different people on different parts if that can be arranged.
In this case I never got that far. I did read the play twice, and though I really enjoyed it and can clearly see at least some of the evolution from play to movie, I still don't get a couple of things. More re-reads - particularly good ones as described above - would help.
If you haven't seen the play or the movie, you're in for a treat when you do. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is the story of two characters from Hamlet, entirely from their point of view. They are minor characters - almost bit parts - in Shakespeare's masterpiece, so we have very little to go on for background and their actions when they are off stage in Hamlet itself.
What we get is an existential romp, almost a farce. No one - not even Rosencrantz & Guildenstern themselves - can remember which is which, for example. They have no history, and the world is strangely out of kilter for them. There are interesting discussions of death and musings on just how predetermined things are. Of course, since we know what happens in Hamlet, their futures are ordained to end in a particular way, but the play is a discussion of our own futures too, and to what degree we are stuck playing parts.
The dialog is quick and witty, and the ideas presented are interesting and challenging.
I think everyone should become familiar with this one. See it in a theater, read it, or watch the movie. Whatever it takes. It's both funny and deep. Highly recommended.
This is the only play we have read this semester for my Intro. to Drama class that I really was not able to get into much at all. I wouldn't say it felt like a chore to read it. It just wasn't my cup of tea, so I didn't care for it much. That being said, there was definitely some good humor involved, and the ending seems like it would be quite chilling and surreal live on stage. So, not great, in my opinion, but certainly okay.
This play is a little difficult if you're not used to reading plays. It's also probably a little hard if you aren't familiar with Hamlet. You can still probably get enjoyment from it, but not on the level of KNOWING.
It was certainly an original idea, and somehow managed to merge comedy rhetoric similar to Abbott and Costello, and a hopeless, nihlistic theme.
One of my favorite aspects is how every character mixes up Rosencrantz and Gulidenstern with each other (even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can't keep themselves straight!)
It was clearly written, and reading it you can visualize the action as it's happening. I would love to see this on stage.
Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm's-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare's play. In Tom Stoppard's best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.