Skip to main content
Shakespeare & Beyond

What's your favorite Shakespeare play?

Folger Theatre - Love's Labor's Lost
Folger Theatre - Love's Labor's Lost
Folger Theatre - Love's Labor's Lost

(left-right) Joshua David Robinson, Matt Dallal, Zachary Fine, and Jack Schmitt in Love’s Labor’s Lost, Folger Theatre, 2019. Photo by Brittany Diliberto.

You’d think I’d have a better answer to the question, “What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?” — but it’s complicated.

I have favorite lines, of course; favorite speeches, favorite characters. But as beautiful and complicated as Shakespeare can be on the page, for me he lives and dies on the stage, and like all rich banquets, his plays are not always beautifully prepared. So rather than favorite plays, I have favorite productions, ones that bring Shakespeare’s texts to life in very successful and specific expressions.


I guess my favorite Shakespeare play would be Hamlet because I spent 2 years researching and writing a thesis on Andre Gide’s translation. Came to 50 typewritten pages. Got a CL for that (Harvard ‘54).

Richard Freeman — June 25, 2021

My favorite play? Much Ado About Nothing…to be sure…and the Kenneth Branagh production is simply splendid!
-Jennifer Belton

Jennifer Belton — June 25, 2021

I once took a group of adolescents from Connah’s Quay secondary school to Theatre Clwyd in Mold.
The play was “The Taming of the Shrew” not really in the experience of my pupils most of whose grandparents still lived in Liverpool.
They all groaned at the thought of the play.
However, the production was inspired and the scenes were arranged like boxing matches, with the protagonists dressed in brightly coloured jeans, sneakers and T shirts. The exchanges between Katharina and Petruchio were a revelation. My pupils, much to their surprise, adored it and asked when they would be visiting Theatre Clwyd again.

Rachel Bowen — June 25, 2021

so many great ones, Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry IV part two really speak to me

David Powell — June 25, 2021

I can’t get enough of The Taming of the Shrew. Truly sublime!

David Cigler — June 25, 2021

My favorite play is The Tempest

jesus diaz — June 26, 2021

My favourite Shakespearean plays “the Bard” are in order The Merchant of Venice; Midsummer’s Nights Dream (which I have seen at London’s Regents Park Theatre); and The Taming of the Shrew.

Virginia A Dunlop — July 4, 2021

Christopher Plummer as Iago opposite James Earl Jones as Othello in the early 1980s; Wallace Acton in the title role of DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2003 production of Richard III; Ingmar Bergman’s take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream in his 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night.

Noah Morowitz — July 7, 2021

My favorite Shakespeare play is Macbeth. It’s lean, and mean, and gives no quarter.

Katie Waitman — July 7, 2021

I could name a dozen favorite Shakespeare plays, but if forced at gunpoint to pick a single one, it would be Hamlet.

However, I was pleased to see that the first play mentioned in the list was Love’s Labour’s Lost, which I believe is a very underrated Shakespeare comedy. It contains the seeds of later plays (Berowne and Rosalind are an early Benedick and Beatrice, the amateur dramatics at the end prefigure the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but is also very entertaining and stands as its own unique work. It’s also a surprisingly feminist play, or at least is susceptible of a feminist reading, because it challenges the idea that women HAVE to respond when men profess to fall in love them. Throughout the poetry and plays of Shakespeare’s era, and even in his own works (e.g. Romeo’s pose of disdained lover in the opening acts of Romeo and Juliet, Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night, Silvius in As You Like It), there is a constant idea that the man is entitled to women’s affections, but Shakespeare shows self-confident women who know their own minds and who, if they bestow their hearts, are only going to do so when they’re sure their suitors are sincere in their affections and won’t just blithely accept the first men who throw their hearts at their feet.

Nullifdiian — August 2, 2021

Hamlet. I’ve taught for years to my high school students, studied it for a week with other educators at the Folger Shakespeare Library, wrote a choose your own adventure version, and played Horatio (quite badly). Yeah. I’m a Hamlet fan.

Cricket Muse — August 19, 2021