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February 27, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1967)

This play takes place ‘behind the scenes’ of Hamlet and starts with my favorite scene (so far anyway) that English language theatre has to offer. The protagonists are playing the Elizabethan equivalent of heads or tails and the coins they are using fall heads over and over again. Thus begins the most hilariously absurd metaphysical/philosophical debate about probability, reality and normality with Guildenstern angrily questioning the nature of the universe and Rosencrantz remaining completely indifferent to the whole affair. Brilliant! It also does a great piss-take of the classic Shakespearian device of the ‘play within a play’:

“For a handful of coin I happen to have a private and uncut performance of The
Rape of the Sabine Women, or rather woman, or rather Alfred, and for eight you can participate.”

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