Brush Up On Your Shakespeare

A while ago, I told myself I was going to start filling the gaps in my Shakespeare, and that was something which went absolutely nowhere (aside from buying three of the Arden Shakespeare editions of some of the plays). These days, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (although in 2012 I think I’ll give an Uberlist another go), but if I was going to try some resolutions, I think one would be to try and move some of the second and third-tier plays up one or two positions.

In my head, there are three tiers for Shakespeare plays and my experience with them. First tier is seen them performed; second tier is never seen them performed but I have read the play; third tier is never even read them (or at least have no memory of doing so — I came down with the flu during one of my Shakespeare classes and I have a sneaking suspicion there’s at least one on that list which we read/studied that has been wiped from my brain in a haze of medicine). There’s a huge hole in my historical play list (never seen a single one performed, only studied the Hal plays), something which is rather regrettable.

(I suppose I could also add in an even higher tier of ones I’ve been in performances of, although that’s limited to As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet. Since that list is unlikely to ever expand, though, probably not.)

Anyway, I’ve noticed that the Shakespeare Theatre here in DC is performing Cymbeline starting later this month, which is a third tier play for me. But on the downside, it’s directed by the person who did a not good job with Twelfth Night two years ago. Hmm. Decisions, decisions. (I’m also kicking myself for missing the Folger Theatre’s production of Henry VIII a few months ago, because really, how often is that performed in the DC area?)

For those of you who like that sort of thing in general, what are your feelings on Cymbeline? And if I were to try and read one or two of the “third tier” plays this year, any recommendations? (I suspect Richard II would be an obvious choice.)

Seen performed:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • All’s Well That Ends Well
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • As You Like It
  • Hamlet
  • Julius Caesar
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Measure for Measure
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Othello
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Tempest
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Twelfth Night

Read but never seen a stage production:

  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • Henry V
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • The Winter’s Tale

Never read:

  • Coriolanus
  • Cymbeline
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • Henry VI, Part 2
  • Henry VI, Part 3
  • Henry VIII
  • King John
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Richard II
  • Richard III
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen
  • Timon of Athens
  • Troilus and Cressida

2 thoughts on “Brush Up On Your Shakespeare

  1. David Robson says:

    RICHARD II is freakin’ awesome. RICHARD III is a solid read, too.

  2. I’m going to throw my hat into the ring and say Richard the
    III is my favourite Shakespeare. A solid story, brilliant
    character, and just captivating read. Finish it and then read
    Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. The consider your hair blown
    back.

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