I guess this is one of the facts about me you don’t know: I’ve acted in five of Shakespeare’s plays and have watched many more. The characters I played in order were: little boy, servant, pickpocket, tree, and cursed half demon. Only one of those were speaking roles and guess which πŸ˜‰

some of my favourite lines…hehe

This list is based only on my personal experience, and I haven’t touched on the plays I know nothing about. There may be better ones out there – Shakespeare’s timeless for a reason.

Five: Tempest

Actually, I considered a lot of plays to take this slot. A Merchant of Venice and Othello are strong contenders, but I’ve yet to read their real scripts, I’ve only read their simplified versions. There’s The Taming of the Shrew, but it was only enjoyable on the first half; in the second half the plot got simply too sexist for me to handle.

Tempest is arguably the last play Shakespeare ever wrote. It’s about a sorcerer named Prospero who has serious control issues. I mean, he enslaves random nature spirits into eternal servitude, turns a witch into a tree because she pissed him off, shipwrecks a vessel so that his daughter can have the best suitor in the world, and he wants to become a duke again. Easy peasy, right?

You have to give him points for setting Ariel and Caliban free at the end. Although I don’t know what happened to the witch.

As you may have already guessed, I played Caliban, the half-demon and son of the aforementioned witch, the kid that Prospero adopted raised with love until he tried to get too close with his daughter Miranda. He’s a very fascinating character, to say the least. You really can’t blame Prospero for hating him.

Four: A Comedy of Errors

What is this play? Well, it’s Shakespeare’s first comedy, way before he got into writing enemies-to-lovers or cross-dressing shenanigans. It’s about two pairs of twins (master and servant) who gets separated when they were little. One twin is all serious and down-to-business like and the other is a shameless playboy and they confuse their servants and wives and fiancΓ©s and finally everything is cleared up, but not after a LOT of hilarious misunderstandings.

Uh….what?

I warned you this list was biased. I’ll always have a soft-spot for this drama because it was my first; I was twelve when I acted as one of the younger twin servants, and I still consider it the best play I’ve ever acted in.

Three: As You Like It

In general structure, this play is a rom-com, with a witty, cross-dressing heroine Rosalind, her lover Orlando who goes around hanging love songs on trees, Rosalind’s sassy bff and cousin Celia, Phebe who falls for Rosalind (without knowing she’s a girl), jokester Touchstone and cynical, ‘melancholic’ Jacques.

After Rosalind is exiled from the duchy by her uncle, she flees with Celia to the forest of Arden, where much of the play takes place. Rosalind disguises herself as a man named Ganymede, and it is in this guise that she meets Orlando (with whom she’d fallen in love at first sight a few months ago). Orlando obviously doesn’t recognize her, but Rosalind proposes to give him romantic advice. There’s this hilarious circle where things are going on never meeting an end: Silvius loves Phebe, Phebe loves Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise), Rosalind loves Orlando and Orlando thinks Rosalind has left him forever. It all ends in a grand wedding where an astounding four couples are wedded, and an epilogue by Rosalind.

Needless to say, this play is HILARIOUS, and Rosalind’s a fantastic character.

Two: Hamlet

I know, most lists would end with this play first. I’ve never acted in Hamlet, but I’ve watched a fantastic Globe Theatre production of the full drama, with wonderful set changes and background music. I don’t think any other Shakespeare’s play made me cry but this one did. Hamlet’s a story that’s been adapted so many times (even Lion King was based off Hamlet) and is the tragic hero story.

One: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I dare anyone not to like this story: a fairy king and his mischievous servant decide to mess up with the lives of two messed up couples over the course of one midsummer night. It’s got all sorts of impossibilities that won’t work anywhere but here. A magic flower-juice that, when dribbled to the eyes, can make a person fall in love with the first person they see? Check! A man with a donkey’s head? Fairy king playing with the fate of humans? Check! Forbidden love? Feisty female characters? Check! Lots and lots and lots of confessions of eternal undying love? CHECK!

And also, we also get my favourite quote of all time:

Have you ever read Shakespeare? Or watched any drama? (There’re a few good ones on YouTube I watched, you can check it out too) What’s your favourite play?

29 thoughts on “Top 5 Shakespeare’s Plays: a totally biased ranking

  1. Oh my God when I tell you I clicked on this so fast! I just got myself a collection of Shakespeare tragedies from the 1920s, and I’m reading Hamlet right now πŸ˜„ I love Shakespeare so much, I’m that one person who just breaks out in speech that noone understands or gets the reference to πŸ˜…

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  2. Oh my gosh, I love this!!! 😍 I am super-obsessed with Shakespeare and have read all his plays (my favorite one is Othello πŸ˜‰), but I have never acted in one – my stage-fright would probably too crippling for me to even properly portray a tree πŸ˜… So I think it’s really cool that you’ve actually performed in some of the plays – and Caliban is actually quite the impressive role!

    Also, yes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is hilarious. That play at the end is one of my favorite Shakespeare scenes of all time πŸ˜‚

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    1. Wow you read all the plays? That is amazing! I haven’t read Othello yet (I will someday). And playing Caliban was…πŸ˜„harder than I thought. I act best when I play comic relief. Thankfully I’ve never had a case of stage fright – acting has been a part of my life for quite a while now😊

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      1. Ooh, yes, definitely read Othello eventually! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, even if there isn’t much room for playing a comic relief character in that one πŸ˜… And it’s so cool that you’re into acting!

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  3. ahh jan this was so much fun to read!! for some reason i haven’t been getting updates when you post – so i just refollowed, and hopefully i do now!! this was such an interesting post, and i would hate to miss out on stuff like this in the future!! i loved reading this!! πŸ’–πŸ’–

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  4. Have you read Love’s Labour’s Lost? It’s a bit of an obscure one but I recently watched the Royal Shakespeare Company production of it for my degree and it turns out I LOVE it! It’s full of romance and witty wordplay but with a really interesting semi-tragic ending.

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  5. it’s so funny because I’m reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream right now for english class, and I stumbled on this post. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see it on your post as I was scrolling, but surprise surprise, it was number one. It really is an amazing play though. My favorite character is Puck, and you?

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    1. What a coincidence! And my favourite character is puck too! I love his constant don’t care attitude and mischief! Other than that I like both Hermia and Helena as well!

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  6. AHH it’s always been a dream a mine to play a tree!
    Okay, I’m going to guess the son in the Tempest was the speaking role?
    For school, I’ve read Hamlet (we watched the 1996 one!), Richard III (the one with Tom Hiddleston), and part of Romeo and Juliet (1968), and then I’ve listened to Othello on audiobook. Your list really wants me to watch A Comedy of Errors and As You Like It.
    Have you read or watched any good retellings of Shakespeare’s plays?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting!! Playing a tree = not moving for about half an hour. Do not recommend. Yes, I played Caliban! Watch those plays, they’re so fun! And I haven’t watched or read any retellings. There’s a YA book called These Violent Delights that’s based off Romeo and Juliet but I haven’t read it yet.

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  7. WOW, you’ve acted in 5 plays?? That’s just so cool omg..The only dramas I watch are K-dramas, and I experience tons of real-life dramas, but that’s it! I haven’t read many of Shakespeare’s works, but your post, and your unapologetic way of writing have inspired me to read some!! Are there any particular plays you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it!! If you’re reading I’d recommend starting from any of the plays I’ve mentioned here – except A Comedy of Errors, sometimes it can be a bit confusing. Romeo and Juliet, a Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing are good plays to start too. But watching the plays is way better than reading them!! I’m pretty sure there are many good plays out there on YouTube.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahh I love this post so much! I’m glad you linked it in your wrap up post otherwise I would have missed it! I’m a Shakespeare fan myself and it’s so cool you’ve acted in some of his plays. Hamlet is a personal favorite of mine, great post! ❀

    Like

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