God bless my NetFlix subscription, it’s actually been good for SOMETHING!
In the accepted canon Shakespeare wrote 10 histories (mostly covering what is known as the War of the Roses), 11 tragedies, and 16 comedies. Many of the comedies are not funny at all, and could even be classified as tragedies or, at the very least, serious situational dramas.
Richard III (1592)
Titus Andronicus (1593)
Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)
Merchant of Venice (1596)
Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Sir Laurence Olivier’s performances as Richard III, Othello, and Shylock in the Merchant of Venice. His Hamlet was, I feel, seriously lacking, whereas his performance in All’s Well That Ends Well was serviceable.
The BBC, in cooperation with Time-Life Magazine, produced all of the Bard’s plays back in the late 1970s-late 1980s. Trevor Peacock’s performances in Henry VI (Part 2, I think) and Titus Andronicus were stellar. His performance in Twelfth Night was serviceable. Mr. Peacock is in his 90s, but, unfortunately suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
I had always wanted to see all of Shakespeare’s plays before I die. NetFlix has made this possible (as has YouTube and a couple of other Internet websites). This is part of my Bucketlist goals to actually READ all of the Bard’s plays (and all 154 of his sonnets) in The Great Books. Of course, I was exposed to Romeo and Juliet (freshman year high school), Julius Caesar and the Tempest (senior year, AP English, high school), but I find that, as an adult, I appreciate them more.
The Tempest, especially Prospero’s farewell speech to the audience, feels like Shakespeare’s swan song… As though he were saying “Good-bye” to his career as a playwright. There are also a few indications strewn throughout the play that we’re hearing Shakespeare describe himself. Just a feeling I got.
A few plays STANK. Henry VIII (1612) was apparently co-written by Shakespeare. It is BORING AND DRY, like a history lesson that one has to suffer through. A few others made no sense, in fact, The Winter’s Tale (1610) felt as though Shakespeare had started with an Othello-like situation, but didn’t know what to do with it. The second half could be the play all by itself. Macbeth (1605) was… well… RETARDED. I did NOT like Macbeth, not one bit. It was idiotic!