I love Hamlet. It is juat the right amount of depressing to set my soul on fire. I have been in many a Shakespear (sp) play though community theater and I believe it to be a great disappointment in my life that I never had the chance to play the Dane.
I also love the “Henry’s”, particularly “Henry the fourth,part one”, for two reasons. One is Sir Andrew Aguacheek (sp), a character I ate the scenery with almost a decade ago. I love the line “I was adored once too”. It reminded me of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
I also love the character of Poins. When I played him for a second time it was for a version that was set in the 30’s where everone was a gangster. I played him as a street hustler, which is basically what he was, but a street hustler in the 30’s is much different than a street hustler in the 1500’s. First thing I did was learn to do the 3 card monte, because I was sure he would know how to do that. Secondly, I made sure I had a good pack of bee playing cards in an available pocket, no one in the audience noticed them but having the feeling of them in my pocket helped with the characterization. Thirdly, in the outside rim of my fedora I stuck a joker. Again, probably no one noticed but I thought it showed something of the character.
It is difficult to play favorites with the bard, but play them I shall:
The Scottish Play aka MacBeth always, always interestests me greatly
A Midsummer Night’s Dream for romantic fun
The Tempest followed by
Henry IV part I
I’m not sure which I like overall best, but if I had to pick only 4 or 5 plays these would top the list.
Much Ado About Nothing. I love the Henry plays and King Lear, but it’s Beatrice and Dominick and Don Pedro that I return to as if they were old friends. The excellent movie version by Kenneth Branagh doesn’t hurt matters either.
“O, God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!”
Love’s Labour’s Lost is my secret favorite comedy, although I admit that most of that is deep, abiding love for its IV.3. Delightfully silly verbal and physical gags, plus one of my favorite monologues in the canon: “For valour, is not love a Hercules/Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?”
I like 1 Henry IV, although I’ve just read it for the first time in the last week, and it needs some time to grow on me. Same for Tempest.
Cadabra, your Poins sounds great! Although I should point out that Sir Andrew is from Twelfth Night.
Never actually could stand Hamlet. At the end everyone’s dead and I’m always thinking ‘good, they all sucked’. There isn’t really a sympthetic character in the lot. Urgh.
If I had to choose it would be Henry V for the ‘serious’ plays. I once saw Branagh’s version of it and during the ‘once more…’ speech I swear every man in the theater was ready to go march on France (this would have been in Washington).
For the comedies? Love’s Labour Lost, I suppose. Though so many of them are truly good it’s hard to choose.
I’m going with Hamlet too. However, I saw a great performance of Taming of the Shrew a few years ago at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, which had people rolling in the aisles. Well, me at least.
They stayed mostly faithful to the text, but updated the prologue to a transient man who crashed the stage and passed out. Balboa Park security arrived, and after listening to a suggestion from the actors, called in via walkie talkie, “Yeah, we got a D&D over at the theater. They want permission to dress him up in Shakespeare clothes. It’s OK? OK, great.” When the transient man regained consciousness, he was stunned by his new costume, especially the codpiece.
The whole thing was very friendly and accessible. Whenever there was a Latin phrase, an actor would pull out his Latin dictionary and read aloud the translation. When Grumio delivered the line, “… for aught I see, two and thirty, a pip out?”, Petruchio just looked confused, and Grumio mugged to the audience, “… an obscure Elizabethan reference!”
That performance alone was enough to move Shrew up towards the top of my list.