Although the modern times are times of cinema and multiplexes, the intrigue of watching a live performance on Broadway has its own charm. If nothing else then for a while you’re given the chance to travel back into history and get a good glimpse into the thought process of playwrights who loved dramatizing tragic emotions or filling the screenplays with witty humor. So, without further ado, here’s a list of the top 10 most famous plays of all times.
10. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Tennessee Williams:
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is regarded as the best work by Tennessee Williams, despite all the controversies that abound the play when it was first performed. Set up in the backdrop of the plantation house of the Big Daddy family, the story mostly covers the rivalry between two brothers for their father’s property as well as the relationship between Brick, one of the sons, and his wife ‘Cat’. Through the plot the play explores several issues ranging from greed, superficiality, decay, repression, sexuality and more.
9. A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry:
A bold step; A Raisin in the Sun, was one of the first and most famous plays in the history of American Theater that explored the agonies of the Black community. The title of the play was taken from a poem by Harlem; the line went something like ‘a dream deferred might dry up, like a raisin in the sun’. the play describes the hopes, aspirations and struggle of a black family living in Southern Chicago.
8. A Street Car named Desire – Tennessee Williams:
Exploring the good, bad and the ugly of relationships, a Streetcar named Desire is based on the story of two sisters and their journey of life. While one of them Stella is struggling to make peace with her rather over dominating and brutal husband; the other sister Blanche has lost her grip over reality after she discovered her husband was having a homosexual affair outside their marriage.
7. Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw:
Written and performed in 1912, Pygmalion derives its name from a Greek Mythological character of the same name. Bernard Shaw through this play demonstrated an unmatched wit by subtly mocking at the rigid British class system. The story of the play revolves around Henry Higgins, a phonetics professor, who plans to train a filthy street girl to pass for a Duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.
6. A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen:
Controversial at the time when it was written in 1879, the play had stirred frenzy by criticizing the 19th century marriage systems. While many claimed that it was centered on women’s rights, Henrik described it as a story that tells how every individual needs to find out what he/she wants from life. The protagonist of the story, Nora, rejects to live in a ‘Doll House’ created by her husband and therefore the false perception.
5. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare:
One of the early plays ever written by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy that narrates the story of young lovers whose death ultimately unites two feuding families. The play echoes the dramatic style of writing by Shakespeare and, along with Macbeth and Hamlet, occupies a legendary status still remaining on the top list of all theater lovers and love birds.
4. Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett:
The first ever professionally produced play by Samuel, Waiting for Godot narrates the story of two men in search for the meaning of life. They wait near a tree in a barren stretch of land for someone called Godot. It’s their interesting conversations while they wait, the satire and the nonsense incorporated therein which makes for a delightful watch.
3. The Importance of being Earnest – Oscar Wilde:
A farcical comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, landed Oscar Wilde in jail and yet today, years after it was first performed in 1895, it still remains one of the best and most famous plays of all times. The aimlessness of the plot and its undue attack on various social institutions like marriage put it in the bad books of the critics but the audience enjoyed its witty dialogues and light hearted comedy.
2. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller:
Premiered at Broadway in 1949, the Death of a Salesman has been performed more than 742 times and won four Tony awards for best Revival. The story narrates an intriguing relationship between a father and his two sons. In their own ways, all three are big failures in life but they refuse to accept it to each other. But, eventually circumstances lead them to admit their imperfections.
1. Hamlet – William Shakespeare:
The father of all tragedies, Hamlet comes straight out the treasure box of William Shakespeare’s repertoire of plays that have become timeless in retrospect. The story is of prince Hamlet who discovers his mother’s infidelity toward his father King Hamlet and his realization that it was the King’s own brother Claudius who killed him. Hamlet is drawn as a shattered man struggling to avenge his father but in two minds.