Tragicomedy and Tragic Burlesque: Waiting for Godot and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Axel Kruse


When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead appeared at the Old Vic theatre' in 1967, there was some suspicion that lack of literary value was one reason for the play's success. These doubts are repeated in the revised 1969 edition of John Russell Taylor's standard survey of recent British drama. The view in The Angry Theatre is that Stoppard lacks individuality, and that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a pale imitation of the theatre of the absurd, wrillen in "brisk, informal prose", and with a vision of character and life which seems "a very small mouse to emerge from such an imposing mountain".l

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