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Lee Jamieson

Shakespeare’s Best Comedy

By February 2, 2009

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Surely, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s best comedy? I only have to think of Bottom and I smile …

But who am I to comment? Everything I love about this play drove Samuel Pepys to describe it “the most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life” – and I’m not going to win in an argument with Pepys!

However, a poll of over 300 actors, writers and directors, conducted back in November, did agree with me. They voted A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be Shakespeare’s best comedy – it ranked second in the “best play” category behind Hamlet.

If you had to pick, which comedy would get your vote? Do you stand with me and 300 thespians? Or will you be casting your vote alongside Pepys? Let your voice be heard in our About.com poll.


February 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm
(1) R Gambel says:

Merchant of Venice. A play that dares to examine anti-semitism in the forum of a comedy. On first view we laugh at Shylock; but as we age, he looks better and Antonio and his buddies look worse.

Midsummer Night’s Dream might be the best “comic” play.

February 5, 2009 at 3:58 am
(2) Nickodemus says:

Agreed, Midsummer Night is the best comedy, but although I seldom laugh (out loud) Igmar Bergman’s stageing of Twelfth Night really had me in fits!

February 7, 2009 at 11:29 am
(3) Luke Dogwalker says:

Agreed, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fantastic and very funny play,and although it has many comic elements, I am not sure that it fits snugly into the category of comedy, but is mare akin to the sub-genre of romance.
It also, along with some of the so-called problem plays, contains darker elements which may be brought out in production, ie, Elizabethan attitudes towards women.
I have read Pepy’s review, and would like to point out that what he was refering to was a production that he witnessed, and not the written play by Shakespeare, suffice to say, that what he saw could well have been a very bad interpretation of the play and what he would have thought of the original is impossible to say. Anyway, just because Pepys was a distinguished man of letters and a great diarist to boot, it does not necessarily follow that he had immaculate taste and was also an expert on art and literature.
Personally I prefer Measure for Measure and Twelth night (which I voted for), both of which also contain darker elements.

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