A complete guide to every Shakespeare comedy
Born in 1564, William Shakespeare is still considered to be one of the greatest writers the world has ever seen. A master of the English language with a creative, inquisitive mind, we take a look at the most-known comedies written by the Bard, leaving you to vote for your favourite! Whether it’s a tale often performed in the West End such as The Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or a play rarely told on stages today, read all about Shakespeare comedies today.
Every William Shakespeare comedy
The Tempest: When Prospero is left to control elements on an island and creates a magical storm, he manages to wash his enemies to shore. Faced with those who left him isolated, who will be able to keep it together on an island where nothing is as it seems?
Two Gentlemen of Verona: One of the Bard’s earliest comedies, love, betrayal and relationships are tested in this Italian-set play. When characters find themselves infatuated with one another at first sight, will they be able to remain faithful?
The Merry Wives of Windsor: Last performed at the Barbican in 2018, The Merry Wives of Windsor follows John Falstaff as he is determined to seduce a woman to be with forever. Unable to remain strong, it’s clear that the women of Windsor are able to pull his strings to get what they desire instead.
Measure for Measure: Written in the early 1600s, Measure for Measure follows a nun trying to save her brother by giving up her abstinence. Unsure on who to turn to for help, especially with a corrupt official looming over her, who will she able to expose?
The Comedy of Errors: When the identities of twins are confused with one another, who is able to be themselves? When Aegeon tells of twins sharing names, Antipholus and Dromio set off to find their long-lost brothers with their namesakes. According to the RSC, the first recorded performance of The Comedy of Errors was on 28 December 1594.
Much Ado About Nothing: Regularly performed across the world, this 400-year-old Shakespeare comedy follows a group of soldiers who have returned home from the war. As war gives way to wagers at masked balls, will their destinies change towards finding in love, or will their combative minds remain?
Love’s Labour’s Lost: Young loves are tested in Love’s Labours Lost, written at the end of the 16th century. When the King pledges to avoid being seduced by women, he’s immediately faced with temptation by the Princess of France and her ladies in waiting.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An enchanted forest with fairies, lovers and amateur actors comes to life in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a fairy king and queen at war, mischief is set to rule the roost to make sure that the course of true love doesn’t run smooth.
The Merchant of Venice: Written between 1596 and 1598, the story tells of Antonio, the Merchant of Venice whose business ventures are tied to decisions made by Jewish moneylender Shylock and Antonio’s friend Bassanio. A Shakespeare comedy based on money and prejudice, will the financial bonds break or stay together?
As You Like It: When Rosalind is banished from society with her friend Celia, her journey to exile isn’t all bad, meeting Orlando into the forest. A romantic comedy complete with a cross-dressing heroine, love is at the centre of As You Like It.
The Taming of the Shrew: Gender, femininity and matriarchy are tested in The Taming of the Shrew, where the concept of the ‘ideal’ woman is challenged. When Petruchio and Katherina’s relationship is heading south, Petruchio ‘tames’ her by controlling her behaviour, but does being obedient end in complicity overall?
Twelfth Night: A ship is wrecked on the rocks. Viola has been washed ashore but her twin brother Sebastian is lost. As the twins are apart from each other, love and madness play on, with characters becoming besotted on one another and relying on their every words. But, what happens when Viola’s twin brother returns?
The Winter’s Tale: This Shakespeare comedy tells of the King of Bohemia as he visits the King of Sicilia. Believing that his wife has had an affair with the Bohemian royalty, the Sicilian king sets out to poison the woman in question.