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Greatest plays of all time?

May 23, 2008
A few days ago in this blog, I mentioned Daniel S. Burt's book "The Drama 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Plays of All Time."

While we can all agree that such a list is highly subjective, we can probably also all agree that such lists are compulsively readable, fun to debate, and sometimes actually instructive. (Anyone out there attend the event I hosted a few years ago at the Indianapolis Art Center were we debated a list of the top musicals? Anyone?)

Anyway, a few of you e-mailed me asking what else was on Burt's list. While I don't want to take away any of his potential book sales, I will offer you his top 15 (with my notes). Here goes:

1. "King Lear." (I missed the IRT's recent production, but am still shaking from the Stacy Keach-starred version that played The Goodman Theatre in Chicago.)

2. "Oedipus the King."

3. "Hamlet." (I've seen about a half dozen productions, but that's makes me a piker compared to J. Trewin, who wrote the book "Five & Eighty Hamlets.")

4. "Oresteia."

5. "Macbeth." (IRT is offering a truncated version this season.)

6. "Long Day's Journey Into Night." (A major theatrical challenge. I don't expect to see another production as strong as the recent Broadway revival in my lifetime.)

7. "Othello." (While in high school I saw a production with Christopher Plummer amazing as Iago, James Earl Jones not quite up to high expectations in the title role, and then-unknown Dianne Weist awful as Desdemona.)

8. "Waiting for Godot." (Still waiting to see it live.)

9. "Medea."

10. "Twelfth Night."

11. "A Doll's House." (Some go with "Dolls," Burt goes with "Doll's.")

12. "The Cherry Orchard."

13. "Bacchae"

14. "The Importance of Being Earnest."

15. "Antigone."

One thing that should strike any Indy reader of the list is how unlikely it is that we'll have the chance to see productions of more than a handful of these in any given decade.

Your thoughts?
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