If you have never seen a Tom Stoppard play, then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) is a good place to start. Even if you are familiar with the text, it is always worth another visit.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead seems to have grown out of an earlier play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Court of King Lear, but Stoppard soon decided to set his story wholly within the dramatic world of Hamlet. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are courtiers and boyhood friends of Hamlet who are summoned to court by King Claudius to find out what Hamlet’s intentions are. In Hamlet they are little more than bystanders, but in Stoppard’s play their hopes, doubts and fears take centre stage. Ultimately, also, their deaths — clearly signalled in the title of the play — become much more significant.
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