What are Shakespeare's five greatest plays

On the 450th birthday: Ten Shakespeare plays in the topicality check

If the English playwright and lyric poet William Shakespeare could see the world mark his 450th birthday, he would probably be amazed. That the works he wrote hundreds of years ago are still being played. That people still write about him. And that the well-wishers say his pieces are still very topical. Without exception. The “Spiegel” calls Shakespeare the “most influential author of all time”. Writes that his pieces still explain the world today, from the Arab Spring to Kim Jong-un. One may well ask what the authors did wrong after Shakespeare, when they didn’t get anything more topical than “Julius Caesar” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the following four centuries.

So what makes Shakespeare, who was born in April 1564 (presumably April 23), so relevant? First of all this: Shakespeare wrote a total of 38 dramas, 154 sonnets and a few verses, so he already has quantity on his side. The complete work comprises thousands of book pages or, in the Kindle edition, 1659 kilobytes. So no matter what reference to the present you are looking for, there is always something to be found in Shakespeare. And even if no concrete connection can be made, there is still the general “Shakespearian dimension” of a political development, a revolution, a takeover battle in the telecommunications sector.

And yet: Shakespeare doesn't have something to say about everything. Just because someone is poisoned somewhere or something crazy is happening, he hasn't written the right piece for a long time. And let's be honest, some of his lyrics really don't belong in our time. He wrote things that are out of date. Dusty. Musty. It is therefore worthwhile to take a look at his works in detail. What is suitable for analyzing the present? How much topicality is there really?

The two noble cousins

This comedy is arguably the least known play Shakespeare ever wrote. There is a high probability that it is a co-production of Shakespeare and John Fletcher, and since the plot does not offer much, the literary scholars have pounced on the question of whether Shakespeare really worked on it and which parts are from him and which are not. On the other hand, no serious academic has yet dared to argue that the “noble cousins” are pieces of “amazing topicality”. That makes it an absolute exception in the bard's oeuvre.

Degree of topicality: 0

The Taming of the Shrew