Book Review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Rating: 6.5/10.0

I wrestled with the idea of reviewing this play because I feel I didn’t give it the proper attention when I was reading it. However, I figured I may as well write at least a first impression rather than a review. Maybe someday I can come back to it and read it with more excitement and attention like it deserves.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard is a play that focuses on the very forgettable characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.” At first I thought that idea would be hilarious and the play would be an easy read, but I did not like it one bit. I will admit that there were parts that made me laugh and other parts where I understood and appreciated references to “Hamlet,” but overall I don’t feel that the play was really necessary.

I know that statement can cause an uproar about how many books can be considered unnecessary and that’s one of the reasons why we love them, but I just don’t understand why “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” is as hyped-up as it is.

Like I said earlier, I really don’t believe I gave this play the credit it deserves. First of all, I haven’t read the play “Hamlet” in about a year, and I believe reading that first would have made the play more relevant. Also, I read the play while on a car trip and fell asleep many times while reading it, which could lead to my frequent confusion throughout the play. This isn’t to say that no one should read it, but I just didn’t get as much out of it as I possibly could have.

I often found myself getting lost in the dialogue between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (which may have been Stoppard’s intention, and, if so, kudos), and that often led to me getting frustrated with the play. I felt like most of the jokes relating to the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were funny at first, then overplayed, and eventually became boring and not funny at all.

Overall I give this play a 6.5/10.0 because I was impressed by some of the jokes and references inserted and the writing was very true to each character. However, I just can’t see myself reading it again without reading “Hamlet” first (and I’m not a big fan of books with prerequisites). Go out and read it (it’s really quite short) and let me know what you think. Maybe I was wrong about it?

Until then, DFTBA!

-Riley

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