Shakespeare’s a very particular style that not everyone likes. But, I am a strong believer that the right Shakespeare play may just swing you over into the Bard club. If you’ve not really read Shakespeare before, or you would like to try out his work a-new, see below my recommendations for plays.
These are my favourite Shakespeare plays, and there’s honestly something here for everyone. (You’ll notice I’ve also not included one play in particular. My reasons for this at the end)
- As You Like It.
There’s a reason this play is my favourite Shakespeare play of all time. It’s witty, it’s easy to understand and follow, and there are some fantastic reflections and comedy in this play. I’ve been in this play as an actor (Duke Senior, say what), and I’ve also studied this play for my HSC. I still remember large swaths of the lines (most that weren’t mine). It’s a pastoral play (meaning it takes place in the country and idealises country living) which deals with some interesting situations. With a main character who cross dresses for a majority of the play for “protection”, the antics are funny and ridiculous; everyone is trying to protect their identity as all fear the same person.
2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
If you want to go on the biggest trip you’ve ever been on (in a safe, family way), then this is the play for you. It is on the longer side, as it does deal with multiple characters and story-lines at once. This play’s had several adaptions to screen, so if you don’t feel like reading you can get your netflix and chill on. With talking donkeys that used to be actors, the king and queen of the faeries, a bunch of young people in a love quadrangle and a whole range of bizarre side characters, this ones worth it for the laughs and bants.
3. Taming of the Shrew
One of the most underrated plays of the bunch. The banter and sass in this play is AMAZING, with some of the sickest roasting you’ve ever seen. You’ll see a lot of yourself, and people you know in these characters, and it’s hard not to get invested in the two major story-lines. I am slightly biased again, I’ve been in this play as an actor (Senior Gremio. The most fun I’ve ever had making a character) but most English teachers love this as well. The dramatic techniques present are beautiful, and while a much smaller cast than some of the other Shakespeare plays, this one will capture you. Even non-Shakespeare inclined friends really like this one. Think Pride and Prejudice mixed with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (weird combo but trust me).
The dark Emo one of the bunch, Macbeth holds such a special place in my heart. I love the grim scottishness of this play. Multiple people go mad/round the twist. There’s so much intrigue it’s basically Season 1 of Game of Thrones. There are prophecies and witches, rebellions and murder. There’s something in this play for everyone. I was lucky enough in 2018 to see this live in a theater in the round (they built a pop-up ‘globe’ that was in Sydney for a few months) and it was some of the best theater I’ve ever seen.
It’s hard to put Hamlet down as a short, sharp description. Hamlet I think is the most elegantly written of the bunch. The punchy dialogue, the great mental trouble the main character goes through, the death, the drama. It’s like house of cards and game of thrones had a baby, and then killed it. It also has two side characters who deserved better and are two of my favs (Rozencratz and Gilderstien deserved more!). Plus don’t you want to understand where that all to oft repeated quote comes from?
So where’s the play that shall remain nameless? I’ll tell you where, in the trash bin where it belongs. Dirty, filthy Verona with it’s teenage marriage and stupid plot. I hates it. But that’s a blog post for another time