Best Shakespeare Plays

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,433
Las Vegas, NV USA
#1
Four plays seem to make almost everyone's lists: Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and Othello (in no particular order). After that there's more variation. It seems there's currently more consideration of his comedies which historically have been considered lighter works. What would be your favorite five excluding the above four.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#2
Richard III is my favourite, no doubt. It's relatively easy to understand what's being said and follow the plot, it tends not to off at a tangent, it's a history play (which should appeal to people on a history forum!) and Shakespeare creates one of the greatest villains of all time. It's also influential in that anyone thinking of Richard III cannot help but picture the caricature that the Bard created (and most people know the 'a horse' quote). It's also amongst his first pieces which makes it even more impressive

As for others that I like Henry IV, Henry V and A Midsummer Nights Dream. In fact I imagine many would put the AMND above some of the 4 you mentioned.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,099
Caribbean
#3
Four plays seem to make almost everyone's lists: Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and Othello (in no particular order). After that there's more variation. It seems there's currently more consideration of his comedies which historically have been considered lighter works. What would be your favorite five excluding the above four.
If I remember my quiz bowl prep correctly, I think you hit the top four most frequently asked about works. lol

I lean toward the histories and tragedies, the "band of brothers" speech, and "now is the winter of our discontent," both good stuff.
Too many good ones and too many to rank for me.
 
Feb 2017
207
Canada
#4
I'm not familiar with the brunt of Shakespeare's plays, but I saw a production of Timon of Athens last year that I really liked. It's one of his problem plays, and the second half is a jumbled mess, but it has a great theme: people are your friends when you have something to give, and not when you have nothing, but there is a balance to be had between the unbridled optimism and unbridled pessimism that comes from the two extremes.

I also like A Midsummer Night's Dream but have never seen a production of it. Outside of those mentioned I've read Julius Caesar, and seen a production of Hamlet and Macbeth.

But seriously, Hamlet. I own a number of Shakespeare productions on DVD, and I want to watch them all, but I just keep watching Hamlet over and over again.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,433
Las Vegas, NV USA
#6
As for others that I like Henry IV, Henry V and A Midsummer Nights Dream. In fact I imagine many would put the AMND above some of the 4 you mentioned.
AMND is on many short lists including mine. The four I listed are just so commonly chosen that I wanted to hear about people's opinions of the others. So far, a pretty good selection.
 

Davidius

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
4,986
Pillium
#7
I'm surprised that Romeo and Juliet isn't on your list of plays that everyone mentions, it has to be equal top with Hamlet for popularity.

For me, excluding the four you mention, it has to be The merchant of Venice, Coriolanus and Julius Caesar.
 
Oct 2016
136
Ashland
#9
Hamlet does rather stand alone at the top. We watched the Tony Richardson/Nicol Williamson filmed-play the other night: oh, yeah! Next up: Ethan Hawke's swell performance. Olivier's Oscar winner is fine also, though it leaves out just too damn much.

As this is a History Board, one might read Saxo Germanicus' account (in the Gesta Danorum in Old Norse, not Latin )of the original events upon which the Bard's play is, loosely, based. Check out the Christian Bale, Hamlet, Prince of Jutland, ( or whatever).
The Tempest is easily my fave, after the Dane and Macbeth (nearly totally unhistorical.)
BTW, leave Lear and Othello off, imo. Boring.