All About the Bard

As we celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday month, we wanted to share some of the best plays written and some of the ones that can be skipped, according to our resident Shakespeare fan, Jane.

Best Plays, according to Jane

Hamlet, aka The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet and his mental illness was the topic of my first paper in my Shakespeare course and it was a wild ride. My favorite part of any Shakespeare play is where Hamlet complains that he can’t kill his uncle while he’s praying.

Twelfth Night. I saw a stage production of Twelfth Night set in the jazz age and interspersed with pop songs which was amazing. What I love about this play is Orsino moping around when Olivia rejects him and my girl Viola.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck is the real MVP of this play, and at the end we will never know how long the love potion lasts for one of the main couples.

Macbeth. My senior music history project was analyzing the motif’s of the play with Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Hands down one of the best tragedies.

Henry V. It’s Henry not getting what he wants right away from France, so naturally he decides to wage war until they cave.

Much Ado About Nothing. It’s a great comedy with great banter moments between Beatrice and Benedick.

Henry IV Part 1. The best part of the play is Falstaff.

Richard III. Richard’s one of the creepiest people you’ll ever read about.

Othello. I’ve read this play 3 times and I think this is one of the most striking plays I’ve ever read. I also did an analysis project in college on the treatment of Desdemona in both Act V and in the final act of Verdi’s opera Otello and spent three months deep diving into Desdemona and Othello’s relationship.

Plays to skip

Romeo and Juliet — My least favorite. I first read this for fun when I was 12 and have strongly disliked it ever since. I’ve read this about three more times and I still hate it.

Merry Wives of Windsor. I wanted to like this one so much because Falstaff was one of the characters I enjoyed in Henry IV, but alas it didn’t do it for me.

Comedy of Errors. This is one of the early plays and in my opinion it shows.

The other Henry plays. I read a bunch of them in my Shakespeare course in college and found them really dry unless you wanted to know more about Britain.

Cymbeline. This one’s just weird.

Best Adaptations

Hamlet – both Olivier and Branagh versions

10 Things I Hate About You

Chimes at Midnight

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Much Ado About Nothing

Titus

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Ran

Throne of Blood

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