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 😉
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.
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 fiancés and finally everything is cleared up, but not after a LOT of hilarious misunderstandings.
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.
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?