The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays – Tom Stoppard
Okay, so I’m cheating 😀 Yes, this is a fictional book… but really, they’re plays. However, Tom Stoppard is too brilliant to pass over, so I couldn’t resist…
I found this book at a MASSIVE annual second hand book sale for $2, and out of the 10+ books I picked out that year, this one is certainly my favourite. It wasn’t the first I’d heard of Tom Stoppard. In my first year at University, I was lucky enough to be able to study ‘The Real Inspector Hound‘, and even see it performed by – wait for it! – by very own lecturers! As if it wasn’t already a comical play. And so, with this lovely introduction to Tom Stoppard, I dove into reading this selection of plays.
Firstly, I have to say that this collection does not have all of Tom Stoppard’s best plays. ‘The Real Inspector Hound’ is definitely one of his better works, but a couple of the ones included in this book were a little on the bizarre side to me. More bizarre that you’d expect, that is. Certainly, the utter craziness of Stoppard is one of his merits! 🙂 However, this collection also includes ‘Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth‘. This was a joy to read, and I bet it would be even better to see performed! It’s technically two plays, but they are meant to be performed together, and indeed, one wouldn’t make complete sense without the other! The way that Stoppard twists Shakespeare is a true marvel to experience.
Which leads me to my absolute favourite Tom Stoppard play, which is regrettably not in this collection (but, never fear, I’ve just ordered myself a copy online!)…
Oh. My. Goodness. Talk about comedy, and meta-theatre, and wit, and… genius!
Here, Tom Stoppard truly shows his flair for Shakespeare. As you might have guessed from the title, this play is about the minor characters from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It tells the whole play from their point of view – it’s hilarious to see that Hamlet is now one of the minor characters! I have also had the opportunity to see the play performed earlier this year, and I can truthfully say that it is the best performance I’ve seen in theatre for a long time!
And as a side note – it’s always interesting reading a play as opposed to watching a play. I mean, plays are obviously written to be performed and watched, but it’s a merit to the work when one can read it and enjoy it as well. I’m rather used to reading plays, what with all the Shakespeare I study, but it’s a fun thing to think about. I believe that once you’ve seen a play performed though, it gives a reading of the same play extra dynamics and elements – definitely recommend it. 😀
So… yes. Tom Stoppard is a genius. I sure hope I can see more of his work on the stage!
How about you lot? Any other Stoppard fans? Any thoughts to add about reading plays, as opposed to watching them be performed? Leave a comment, or two! 🙂
You can sympathize with my fellow Ninja here!