I've always preferred literary art with a philosophical dimension. Case in point: the play Becket by Jean Anouilh. I was introduced to the play via the film starring Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, which I saw with a friend 35 years ago or more.
We were so impressed with this drama that some years later, my friend initiated a local theater production of it. It never panned out, but I can still remember the rehearsals. Though not an actor, I participated in reading rehearsals, playing an archbishop locked in a power struggle with the King. Tossing out veiled threats was, I admit, intoxicating, even in fantasy. Nothing says sadistic lust for power like the Catholic Church.
But I recall as well something far more important—my reason for the fascination with the play—the curious self-awareness of the Becket character and the ambiguity of his role-playing, culminating in a martyrdom predicated on assuming "the honor of God". Having worked behind the scenes in the theater (long ago and far away) and kibitzing incessantly for years, I got to observe actors, directors, and playwrights. It's instructive to see who really has awareness of the meaning of plays and who doesn't. I've found actors in plays are just as clueless as actors in real life. But some roles can't be adequately played without profound inquiry into meaning. This play presents such a challenge.
I've distilled out of the play some key quotes revealing this most intriguing character:
If you want some entertainment that makes you think instead of settling for the usual pabulum, you'd do well to rent this film.