1. As You Like It
This play is a Shakespearian comedy which is probably why it appeals to me so much.
Rosalind, daughter of a usurped duke, is banished from her home and winds up trying to find the true love she saw, like, two minutes ago, by trekking around in the whacked out forest of Arden disguised as a dude. A lot of complicated stuff happens along the way, with tonnes of confusing gender-swapping and split-second sparked romances, but you get the hang of it sooner or later.
It’s funny, romantic and doesn’t end in bloodshed and a thousand dead bodies. Definitely at the top of the must read/watch list.
Probably one of the more gory of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
Lord Macbeth is convinced by his downright insane wife, Lady Macbeth, to murder the king because apparently some witches said it was going to happen…so I guess if the creepy witches say it’s happening, it’s happening. Anyway, let’s just say THAT plan doesn’t go to well, and like all Shakespearian tragedies, pretty much everyone is dead by the end.
Aside from the death, I find it enrapturing, with beautiful motifs of nature and masquerade.
3. Romeo and Juliet
Okay, so aside from the fact that NOBODY FALLS IN LOVE THAT FAST, I guess this play is alright. I mean, once I read it, saw it performed, and watched Leonardo Di’Caprio play Romeo I actually warmed to it.
If you don’t know the storyline already, then you really need to get out more…Basically two crazy kids from opposite sides of a family feud fall in love, secretly get married and the accidentally commit suicide in the name of true love.
It’s a classic and definitely a defining moment for literature.
Othello delves into the issues of class, race and gender with characters that stir up emotions from the darkest parts of our hearts.
Othello, a dark-skinned officer who is leading the battle against the ‘Turks’, marries a younger upper class girl, much to the disdain of the world. All the while Othello’s servant Iago is plotting to bring the married couple’s world down about their ears.
A tragedy, but an unexpectedly good one.
5. The Tempest
I include this play in the list with slight reservations. It’s an odd tale…not a tragedy, not a historical play, and not really a comedy. There’s even some who say Shakespeare didn’t even write The Tempest.
Basically this duke gets usurped (Shakespeare has a thing for usurped dukes) and is exiled to a magical island with his daughter Miranda. Then the duke conjures a massive storm to shipwreck all of his enemies so that he can torture them as revenge. But Miranda falls in love with one of the enemies and problems start up because the duke really wants to be evil…but his daughter is in love with the guy he kinda wants to kill.
Anyway, nobody dies, but I really like the romance and magic woven into the play!