Twitter brought us an interesting discussion today over what the most “under rated” Shakespeare play is. For those that weren’t following, here’s the summary:

takes a stand:  “Hamlet. Yup, it’s SO good that it’s STILL underrated.”

(who, by the way, posed the original question!) would like Coriolanus to get “more notice”, for Volumnia.

For the curious, my own answer to the question was Richard II. Although I did offer the caveat that I think that every play that doesn’t get all the attention should get more attention :).  Something about R2 makes me think that people see it first as a history, second as a sort of “lesser Richard” (what with R3 being such a big deal), when in actuality it’s this poetic masterpiece that you only get exposed to in school if you’re very very lucky.

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10 thoughts on “Underrated?

  1. I have to go with "Troilus and Cressida," which critic Robert Speaight called Shakespeare's "most sophisticated" play. Although it's finally being staged more frequently (after 1950), "Troilus and Cressida" may very well be the greatest Shakespeare play seen by the fewest number of people.

  2. Richard II is a good choice, but I think that it is underrated as poetry, but not as theater. I've seen a number of versions, and I'm just not blown away by how it works as a play.

    Winter's Tale, on the other hand, is a work that seems like a theatrical dud on the page, but seems to work brilliantly in performance. I did Winter's Tale some years ago and remember being regularly shocked by how strongly it connected to the audience.

  3. I'd go with KING JOHN. Never gave it much thought, then saw an incredible production about nine years ago, and I still vividly remember every moment. Going back and reading it, I saw so much more in it.

  4. ALL of the Histories are extremely underrated, especially Richard II (a delayed coming-of-age story filled with some of Shakespeare's best poetry), King John (A study in selfish leadership and its innocent victims), and Henry VI, Part 3 (A tragedy of both sundered families and fractured countries: in a word, Shakespeare on civil war).

    I absolutely agree that Troilus and Cressida deserves far more attention as well. After being in it, I can honestly say that it is one of Shakespeare's most nuanced plays, and has by far the largest number of great roles in any Shakespeare show.

  5. A tip, Alex? Sticking the name of your website into your Blogger profile like that does more harm than good. I as the site administrator see something like that and have to decide whether it's just automatic spam (and, thus, deleted). If instead you just had a real name, and then linked your site to your profile as the others do, your comments will be less likely to get deleted.

    In this case I see a real person behind the comment — but I did check. And, earlier today, I was deleting similar comments that looked like they were placed solely for the purpose of getting some "link juice".

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