Your favorite Shakespeare play

I’ll put in another vote for The Tempest, which grows in complexity every time I read or see it, but stays mysterious all the same. As a bonus, my girlfriend played Ariel in a production last week and was just amazing. :smiley:

Macbeth comes in second. I love that it’s almost a noir story, and I like its brevity and directness, although that probably comes from later editors and not Shakespeare. Ian McKellen’s Richard III is as good as Sampiro and others say it is, but I have to put in a vote for the 1976 Macbeth that stars McKellen and Judi Dench. It’s a filmed version of a bare-stage production, not a movie adaptation, but it’s an outstanding one. McKellen’s Macbeth is a conflicted man who chooses to do wrong, not a decent man who is whipped into it by his wife, and Dench found a few great moments that make Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness much more believable.

Tragedy–Lear I think I like it overall best because of the very strong parallel/sub plot–it is two, two, two plays in one and they integrate too–also like Lear’s arc of change

Comedy–Midsummer’s, with Taming of the Shrew as Miss Congeniality

History–the Henry IVs, because of Prince Hal and Falstaff–yeah, he was great as a king in Henry V, but it’s that arc thing that I like. Hal’s an orator in V, but here he is a black wit.

Forgot to mention I’m also very fond of Titus Andronicus. The first time I saw it, I remember thinking “Oh they’re not…they’re not going to…oh dear god!” And then it just got worse. Also of course have much love for Hamlet.

I’m definitely more fond of the very dark Shakespeare, I’m noticing.

West Side Story and Forbidden Planet.

Another vote for Julius Caesar. That one captures my interest from beginning to end, and Marc Antonys’ speech that turns the tides of fortune for the conspirators is absolutely fascinating.

The best comedy, and one I haven’t seen here yet, has to be The Taming of the Shrew!

Richard, Part III! The best villain in literature. Lots of fun.

Lear as a drama. It lends itself to dozens of interpretations.

MacBeth is a great one too. (Does the movie “MacBeth, Pennsylvania” use the original speech?)

That’s actually “Scotland, PA.” And no, it doesn’t. Some people loved that movie for the Christopher Walken factor, but I was disappointed.

Thought I would be alone, but it seems I am in good company! I like Measure for Measure best.

Twelfth Night. Love it.

The Tempest. I’ve seen quite a few productions of it. it’s offbeat and interesting. And, of course, it’s a large part of the inspiration for my favorite SF film, Forbidden Planet (which it differs from considerably in several respects. Those people who think FP is Tempest dressed up in sf drag need to pay better attention).
Followed closely by Macbeth.

Right you are; I never understood why people said this. After I bought the DVD to watch with my girlfriend, I saw that some of the characters, and maybe the setting, and inspired by the play - but that’s really it.

Favorite to watch or read: Midsummer Night’s Dream: Three stories from the mundane to the mystical woven upon one another, and the Pyramus and Thisbe play within the play is hilarious, even to a modern audience.
I also hold a soft spot for Hamlet among the tragedies, dense and psychological.

I can’t help but notice the number of Dopers who like Much Ado About Nothing which is easily my favorite of the comedies as well. Is the play the best one for a modern audience or do we all simply have great taste?

Favorite Tragedy: Richard III. I just love Richard, and as a villain, he is more interesting, I think, than MacBeth, who’d be my next favorite. Plus, I like the Ian MacKellan Richard better than any adaption of MacBeth I’ve seen.

Favorite History: Henry V, but closely followed by Antony and Cleopatra. Henry is just so many great speeches followed by one another, it’s astounding. From the archbishop’s outlining of the English claim to France’s throne (which, I always maintain, has just the slightest hint of irony in it) to Henry’s “And tell the Dauphin / His jest will savour but of shallow wit / When thousands weep more than did laugh at it” and the justly famous Agincourt speech. Just grand.

Favorite Comedy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for reasons already mentioned above.

Least Favorite Tragedy: Hamlet. I could just gobsmack this obnoxious loser from one end of the stage to the other. It’s not for nought, I think, that so many writers have found everybody BUT Hamlet to be sympathetic and ill-deservant of their respective fates, as Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius or the aforementioned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. But then maybe the problem is more school and university’s focusing of Hamlet rather than the more interesting side characters.

Least Favorite History: Coriolanus; just didn’t connect with me.

Least Favorite Comedy: I got none – I found something fun in all of them, and can’t really tell you any I didn’t like.

More than the slightest hint: it’s pretty clear that the claim to the French throne is tenuous, and is Henry is being provided with spurious justifications for what he wants to do anyway by an Archbishop eager to distract him out of levying taxes on the Church.

That’s what I love about Henry V: it’s a much more complex play than it’s usually given credit for. Everyone remembers the Narrator’s grandiloquent patriotic speeches before each act, but if you watch carefully, what the Narrator says every time is promptly undercut by the action on stage. Act Two is prefaced by “Now all the youth of England are on fire/ …and honour’s thought/ Reigns solely in the breast of every man.”, but this glorious declaration is promptly followed by Nim, Bardolph and Pistol fucking around and squabbling in the pub.

Comedies: the Robert Lindsay & Cherie Lunghy version of Much Ado About Nothing
The BBC updated version with Shirley Henderson and Rufus Sewell The Taming of the Shrew
History, Henry V - Kenneth Brannagh version Right from the very moment Derek Jacobi does the ‘Muse of Fire’

Everything else is ‘yep - enjoy it’, usually quite a bit, but can’t figure out an order. Except for Cymbelene, which for some reason, just annoys the hell out of me.

Othello, followed closely by King Lear.

Gotta give a shout-out for the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Conscience of the King,” which - title included - is just one long love letter to Hamlet. And of course there have been many other Shakespearean references elsewhere in ST.

I’d vote for “the best one for a modern audience” – I mean, one set of lovers are actually suited to each other, which is better than par for the course with Shakespearean comedy, and most of the jokes are still funny (possibly thanks to the absence of an actual clown – Touchstone’s material, for example, has not worn well). Don John is a rather clunky villain, of course, but apart from that it’s all good.

Oh yes. One of the things I like about that play is that it’s so perfectly balanced – there are a number of elements that suggest Henry really is the hero the Chorus tells us he is, but equally many pulling against it, and the result is a play that grabs you by the throat and demands to know what your values are.