I am so sorry for being extra in my choice of topics? This post is brought to you by the fact that I just finished being in the play Julius Caesar!! So now I felt the need to show off some opinions.
13. A Winter’s Tale
Yikes, this play is so disjointed. It quite literally feels like two different plays shoved together.
Also, yet another random dude who’s terrible to his wife getting redeemed with no effort. I don’t mind dudes who are terrible to their wives to add complexity – I love Othello. But this show doesn’t really redeem the Duke much. Hermione returns and they’re just like “all’s well that ends well!!” Um, okay?? Or Paulina could kill Leontes and they could all live happily ever after for real. I’m just saying.
12. The Taming of the Shrew
I don’t really like this play much; it’s pretty darn sexist in 90% of adaptations and really not that funny. But if adapted into a more modern setting, it can become a comedy about two rude people coming together, rather than a story about a woman being broken. You know, with a lot of cuts.
I have to admit, this play was totally worth it for the fantastic movie 10 Things I Hate About You. It’s maybe my favorite high school romcom ever. Scratch that “maybe”; it is.
11. The Tempest
I just… don’t care? about this one? at all? it’s pretty pointless and weird. I feel like I need to see an actual adaptation of it, because hoo boy, is it flat in the text.
10. Merchant of Venice
This is supposed to be a comedy and it’s not?? it’s not?? It’s really only that funny if you hate Jewish people. Which obviously people at the time did.
But it’s so easy to flip this play around and turn it into a fabulous tragedy. I’m really interested in seeing that interpretation. Maybe this would go up in the ranking with that interpretation. MAYBE.
9. King Lear
Again, I really just don’t care about this one. It’s mediocre, the storyline is easy to predict, one of the good guy actually ends up winning at the end… it’s fine. It just doesn’t stand out to me.
8. Twelfth Night
This play is… actually pretty good. I like the characters, I like the storyline fine, etc etc etc. The only reason this isn’t higher is because that whole Malvolio storyline is really cringeworthy and unfunny. It grosses me out every time, to be honest.
7. Romeo and Juliet
This isn’t a romance. It’s not. It’s a story about prejudice and the clash between younger generations and older generations. Which if you think about it is a recurring theme in Shakespeare’s works; it pops up in Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well.
Anyway, I don’t really care much for the romance in this, and unfortunately, I think that’s the element most productions / retellings emphasize. But if this play is done right, I am so into it.
ALSO: I’ve been catching up on Still Star-Crossed recently. Wish me luck!!
I really like this play!! I don’t know what I have to say about it that hasn’t been said before; it’s not exactly a divisive play from what I can tell. Othello is insecure due to years of racism, and is taken down by one of the most insidious villains in any Shakespeare play. It’s terrifying and really interesting.
There’s not much to analyze specifically here or give opinions on. It’s a damn good show. Love it.
This used to be my favorite tragedy as a kid, but after rereading it this year in English, I’m really not quite sure why.
Macbeth is not a bad play by any means. I love the storyline; it’s eerie and interesting. I like the characters, despicable as they are. I personally think this play translates better on screen. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are roles it’s best to see acted out. Speaking of which, Kate Fleetwood and Patrick Stewart do the best job with these roles.
It’s just not very… tragic, I guess? The good guys win. Ambition is a tragic flaw. This play is anti-Macbeth, anti-witch propaganda written for King James, and it shows. Same issues as King Lear.
I don’t know. I think everything builds up to a fantastic conclusion, and then the book stutters to an end. Lady Macbeth dies offscreen, rather than onscreen. Despite their good soliloquys towards the end, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s actual deaths didn’t work for me.
This used to be one of my least favorite shakespeare plays. Why? Come on, you know why. In 90% of adaptations, Hamlet is a dick. He’s probably the type to send dick picks.
BUT THEN. I saw a live adaptation and, let me tell you, it was amazing. I finally got the appeal of Hamlet’s character and why he’s compelling!! We actually had an actress playing the character with some pronouns changed, and her portrayal of the character was so fucking spot on. I don’t even know how to explain to you how much I loved her performance. It’s maybe my favorite live performance of any actor ever. She actually brought tears to my eyes. I SOBBED.
So now I’m an unabashed lover of this play. Oops.
3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
This is my favorite comedy that isn’t just influenced by nostalgia. It’s genuinely really funny.
I personally think reading Shakespeare’s plays doesn’t work. These plays deserve to be seen, with acting and dramatic scenes. On page, this play is maybe not the funniest ever. On stage, though, it’s fabulous.
This show also has one of my favorite endings. It’s such a good monologue!! And so meta about plays.
2. Julius Caesar
I am SO biased. I was literally just in this. I actually bumped it up a spot from 4 to 2, because the more I think about it, this is maybe one of my favorite plays of all time.
My favorite thing about this play is that there’s no villain. Every single character could be played as a hero or a villain or someone in between. Every bad thing that happens is the result of a character decision. I just really love this type of tragedy narrative, where it’s not about fate or stupidity; it’s about who these characters are as people.
This is also just one of the best-written plays I’ve ever read. I love how Shakespeare varies his meter for every character. Okay, example time: Brutus ends at least half his statements with weak endings rather than in typical Iambic Pentameter. Cool, right? Maybe it’s not if you don’t know what any of that meant. Nevermind. But my nerd ass loves it. Also, so much rhetoric. That assembly scene changed me as a person. You could write a freaking term paper on that scene and still not fully analyze the whole thing.
And it’s still a relevant story today!! This play has some really fucking relevant political commentary. There’s actually a line in this play about how this bloody scene, this surprise betrayal, will be reenacted a thousand times over in the future, and it’s maybe the most brilliant line of all time, ever. I love it. I can’t believe we cut it.
Also, I have a review full of memes up here. I really do love your work, Shakespeare. Really.
1. Much Ado About Nothing
YES, my love for this play is mostly nostalgia. No, I do not care. Basically, this is the play that got me into Shakespeare. I saw that Kenneth Branagh / Emma Thompson movie of it when I was maybe eight years old and I LOVED IT SO MUCH.
This is basically the original hate to love story. That’s it, that’s why I love it. Okay, no, it’s genuinely super funny and I love it. Beatrice is super funny, the tropes are great, the banter is awesome… yeah, it’s just solidly fun.
I do have to admit I kind of hate the Claudio storyline. It’s just cringey and gross and again, the same as that Winter’s Tale storyline. BUT I love the narrative about misogyny!! Okay, I genuinely consider this a feminist play. Benedict’s relevance as a romantic hero is proven partially by the fact that he believes Hero when she says she hasn’t been unfaithful. Claudio’s assumption Don John is right is emblematic of him being terrible. It’s not framed as Hero’s fault.
Anyway, thanks if you actually got to the end of this post and dealt with my ridiculously nerdy self. Hope you enjoyed!! And definitely mention any opinions in the comments.