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January 4, 2016

To Read Or Not To Read: Top 10 Plays About Shakespeare


Break out the quill and parchment, because it’s time to indulge your inner Shakespearean self.

For a fresh start on the new year, we’re taking a new look at the Bard. From parodies to Shakespearean characters changing up their stories, the below list of Shakespeare-inspired shows will provide endless entertainment during the cold winter months. Go forth and enjoy!

Bomb-itty of Errors by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory J. Qaiyum, Jeffery Qaiyum, and Erik Weiner
Award-winning Ad-Rap Tation, hip-hop theatre retelling of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The show lasts one hour and thirty minutes and is part play and part rap concert. Refreshingly current but retaining the integrity of the original. 4m or f.

Caliban by Don Nigro
The unfortunate island creature from The Tempest explains to us what really happened on the island from his point of view. This play is published in Labyrinth & Other Plays. 1m.

In Juliet’s Garden by Judith Elliot McDonald
Juliet Capulet invited four other heroines of Shakespeare’s classics (Katharina, Portia, Ophelia, and Desdemona) to lunch in her favorite garden in Verona to discuss ‘issues’ they all have with their plots. All the ladies have suggestions how these issues might be remedied. Shakespeare has also been invited, but instead ends an envoy, his literary agent and Editor Jacqueline de Boys, who attempts to save the day with the help of Juliet’s Nurse. 7f.

Much Ado About Murder by Robert Mattson
Shakespeare is trying to both get a name for his new play and get it on stage before all his actors are dead. His backers want him to cut back on the special effects. He has two women trying to sneak into the show pretending to be men. The Queen wants free seats to a performances that is 5 months after the run ends and the only one who can understand what old Will is saying is his stage manager, James, who’s a Shakespeare to English interpreter. 4m, 6f.

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage whilst playing Othello. A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics, and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre? 5m, 3f.

Moral Terror by Robert Brustein
Set in 1605, the year of the Gunpowder Plot, a terrorist conspiracy to blow up the houses of Parliament. Shakespeare, delicately balancing his allegiances to assure his own survival, is commissioned by King James to write a play to justify his right to the throne. That play is Macbeth. This is the second installment of Brustein’s trilogy of plays. 6m, 1f.

The English Channel by Robert Brustein
This dramatic comedy examines the murky relationship between great writers and their proclivity to “borrow” ideas and material, tracing Shakespeare’s relationship with The Earl of Southampton, the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, and Christopher Marlow during the turbulent months before Marlowe’s death. This is the first piece in Brustein’s trilogy of plays. 3m, 1f.

The Last Will by Robert Brustein
This show finds William Shakespeare retired at his country home on Stratford after decades of struggle and success in the city of London. In the last stages of a fatal illness, his deteriorating mind obliterates the distinction between fiction and fact, and the playwright begins acting as a character in his own plays. Richard Burbage, leader of Shakespeare’s acting company, attempts to persuade him to return to London and to playwriting, as Will wrestles with his suspicions, delusions, family resentment, and final testaments. This is the final piece in Brustein’s trilogy of plays. 3m, 3f.

Something Rotten in Denmark by Ann Karine
A rollicking farce, this is a rehearsal of the original Hamlet in Shakespeare’s time but with many anachronisms. The ghost is here and Hamlet is in drag. The story unfolds with hyperbole upon hyperbole and with gargantuan gestures of every sort. This 10 minute play is the winner of Samuel French’s Off Off Broadway Festival. 4m, 2f.

The Swine of Avon by Thomas Hischak
Here’s the story of Shankspeare – author of such theatre classics as Loins Labors Lost, King Porkrind the Third, A Midsummer Night’s Pig Roast, and McBoar. We follows Shankspeare from a humble birth in Fatsford-on-Avon, to fame in the city on Loin-don, and ending with the monument in Westhamster Abbey. This action-packed comedy is filled with puns, satire, silliness, and even brief scenes from Shakespeare given a new porcine twist! 12m or f.

Honorable Mention: Shakespeare for my Father by Lynn Redgrave
This collection of monologues weaves scenes from the Bard that delightfully coalesce with events in Ms. Redgrave’s young life eliciting memories of Sir Michael and engaging impressions of the celebrated stars who frequented the Redgrave’s home and lives. 1f.