I threw the link up to this blog quickly without having sufficient time to digest myself. Now that I’ve read it, I’d like to add some of my own thoughts to the list of ‘underrated’ Shakespeare plays.
Firstly, I wholeheartedly concur with the calls for Cymbeline, Timon of Athens and All’s Well that Ends Well. All’s Well is one of three plays I wrote on for my MA thesis looking at folktale motifs in Shakespeare, and I still find it a deeply fascinating yet troubling play (ditto one of the other plays I examined: Taming of the Shrew – a year wrapping my head around that one, and I still don’t know whether it’s farcical or misogynistic…). At the end of the day, Bertram is such an unsatisfactory hero that it’s hard to see past his flaws to genuinely embrace or endorse the ending. However this deeply puzzling nature is part of what draws me back to Shakespeare again and again, so it’s a double thumbs up for me.
Timon of Athens is a fantastic companion piece to something like The Merchant of Venice (the third of the three plays I wrote on for said thesis). I think it’s an important read in this era of ‘post’ Global Financial Recession, with its commentary on money and friendship and gifts.
I love Cymbeline. It’s a fairy tale wrapped in a history, with a twist of the Roman plays alongside. I’ve never seen it live, but would love to. It’s a definite must-read, in my opinion.
However, two plays that didn’t make it onto the above blogger’s list, but I think are worthy mentions are The Winter’s Tale and Titus Andronicus. The former also makes a wonderful companion piece to the likes of Othello and Much Ado About Nothing, with the family reunions of Pericles, Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night too. I saw a version of this last year as part of an arts festival. Although I had crap seats and didn’t totally love the version, the sheep-shearing festival, complete with rock’n’roll sheep, were pretty amusing.
And as for Titus…Quentin Tarantino eat your heart out. You think you’re doing something original by staging violence? Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare were wayyyy ahead of you.