KickAss Shakespeare has all of Shakespeare's plays. Each play is presented with full text on one page to make navigation, searching and as easy and comprehensive as possible

And every play is linked to The KickAss Glossary with 20,000 entries and links to where words are used in all the plays. And every play provides easy searching of the Internet for further information on the play, its characters and its words.

Macbeth and Julius Caesar are the first fully produced Shakespearean plays by KickAss. They are available on our site and include both the classic and First Folio texts, annotations, in-line definitions, natural navigation aids. Totally configurable and designed from the beginning to be not just tablet and phone friendly but to maximise the strengths of both mobile and desktop platforms.


 

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Blending reality, whimsy, magic, and fantasy A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most delightful plays about the trials of love. Lovers with confused relationships withdraw to a magic and fantastical forest where they are influenced by fairies who have their own love problems. Misplaced magic potions and confusion abound until it all works out in the end. A great romp!

All's Well That Ends Well

A comedy, of sorts in that nobody dies at the end, All's Well That Ends Well is the story of a young woman pursuing her love and tricking him into marrying her using the 'bed-trick'. While Helena is chasing after Bertram everyone else seems to be in morning for recent deaths. Unfortunately the play's only source, the First Folio, is not based on good copies of the play which may be one of the reason it is not one of Shakespeare's best. While all plays should be seen that is especially true for this one.

Antony and Cleopatra

Follow up to Julius Caesar. Antony, having revenged Caesar's murder but having lost the empire in doing so, runs away to Egypt to escape those now in control of Rome. In Egypt he he woos and cuddles and falls mortally in love with Cleo, Caesar's old lover. But he can't hide from Rome and neither of the two lovers live happily ever after. In fact they don't live ever after at all. All proving that in the end poison and snakes are not good for anyone's health.

As You Like It

Fantasy and reality are blended in the Forest of Arden to which a number of nobles have been banished and where they contemplate life. Many remember the quote rather than the play:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players...

Coriolanus

A true tragedy of an victorious early Roman general who brings about his own demise. Coriolanus uses his military success to try and become a political leader. After initial success the common people turn against him and he denounces them in return. Exiled he forms new alliances, threatens Rome, is persuaded to spare Rome and is then murdered by his new allies for betraying their cause.

Never one of Shakespeare's more popular plays.

Cymbeline

Set in ancient Britain King Cymbeline's daughter, Imogen, falls in love with a man raised by her father. The lover is banished. The Cymbeline's Queen plots to have her own son elevated to be heir apparent. Meanwhile, Cymbeline's two sons, kidnapped twenty years earlier are still alive. The Queen attempts to kill both the King and his daughter. Imogen's lover flees to Italy. His buddy returns to England and claims to have seduced Imogen. Meanwhile Cymbeline is rebelling against the Romans. (Confused? Not to worry it is not as confusing as it sounds in a short paragraph.)

And that is just the start of it all with the end being a feast where everyone reveals what they did, Cymbeline pardons everyone, becomes friends with the Romans again, and they all live happily ever after - or at least for a day or two.

Be ready to take notes to keep track of who is who and who did what to whom.

Hamlet

The original Goth, thirty plus year-old Hamlet whines about his fathers death but doesn't do anything about it until the last, very bloody moment.

Hamlet is not for Shakespeare newbies. Best to see a movie of it first (on DVD so you have subtitles available). Gibson's version is a good intro using original staging.

Henry IV, part 1

The second part of a four part series that starts with Richard II and runs through Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and concludes with Henry V. King Henry proceeds to consolidate his power after deposing his predecessor in Richard II. But his main concern is his son Hal, the future Henry V, who wants nothing more than to drink, wench and play games with his buddies at the tavern.

Henry IV, part 2

The third part of the four part series that starts with Richard II and runs through Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and concludes with Henry V. Hal, Henry IV's son, finally grows up and by the end of the play has won a battle, received his dying father's blessing and parted ways with Falstaff in preparation for his new role as King Henry V.

Henry V

The fourth and last part of the series that starts with Richard II and runs through Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and concludes with this play. Henry V is now comfortably settled in as King but has his eye on a choice part of France. He crosses the channel and wins the battle of Agincourt - with comparable odds to the Americans at the Alamo - but Henry wins!

Henry VI, part 1

Henry VI, part 2

Henry VI, part 3

English history plays covering the period from 1422 to 1485 (if the play Richard III is included after the three Henry VIs). Starting with the death of Henry V and the crowning of his infant son as Henry VI (and a few days later being crowned as King of France due to his mother's French ancestry) the series follows back and forth fights over claimed ownership by the Brits of parcels of land in France, including and encounter with Joan of Arc, and struggles for control of England at home - now known as the Wars of the Roses. By part 2, most of the action is in England where factions fight for control of the land and the crown of the King. Back and fourth the fights continue in part 3.

Tremendously popular when they were stagged in the 1590's and 1600s their popularity has since waned.

Julius Caesar

Mark Antony, after one of the greatest two-faced speeches of all time, avenges with a vengeance the great Caesar's murder. A great 'starter' play, indeed a great play in any category.

King John

History of King John's reign (from 1199 to 1216) mainly concerned with disputes between the British and French, the eventual war between them and its aftermath. At the end King John is poisoned and his son is crowned king.

King Lear

The legend of an early (circa 800BC) British King's descent into insanity prompted by two, two-faced, back stabbing, nasty daughters as only Shakespeare could portray them, King Lear is one of the Shakespeare's great, though very dark, tragedies. It is also one of the most adapted plays having been turned into many, books, movies and even other plays.

Love's Labour's Lost

A comedy in which four noble men pledge to have no association with women for three years so that they can concentrate on studying and health. As audiences from the sixteenth century to the present know that just wasn't going to work.

Containing lots of wordplay (on sixteenth century words) and obscure references Love's Labour's Lost can be a difficult play to enjoy for the modern theater goer or reader.

Macbeth

Overview   Full Play

Greedy ambition, witchery, insanity, brutality with blood everywhere - all during nine days of kingly chaos in AD1040 Scotland. Macbeth, a tight play of ambition gone wild, progresses quickly from the first thought implanted by the weyward sisters (Fair is foul and foul is fair), through the deed, to the inevitable end.

Measure for Measure

This is another comedy that isn't a comedy. The Duke of Vienna has let his country go to pot (no, not that kind of pot). He disguises himself and mingles with the people to find out how amoral and corrupt his society has become. Along the way he tries to fix a few people but in the end...well there really isn't an end: things continue pretty much as they were.

Much Ado About Nothing

Not much has changed in the battle of the sexes during the past 400 years, though it was a lot funnier then with two happy endings. Set in Sicily where a group of officers return after a successful military campaign, lovers debate and bicker and are deceived by others until all is resolved with Beatrice and Benedick realizing their hate for each other is actually love and are finally united in matrimony. They may have even lived happily ever after as there are no mothers-in-law in this play.

Othello

Interracial sex, an irate father, a jealous and suspicious man's man with a faithful wife, all stirred up by one cunning and truly evil Kenneth Branagh, errrr...... Iago. Othello's unfounded jealousy ends with the killing of his wife and then himself.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

A mediocre play of doubtful authorship (many scholars say Shakespeare only wrote half of it - but there is much disagreement about it), Pericles, Prince of Tyre wasn't even included in the First Folio. The King offers his daughter to anyone in marriage if they can answer a riddle. The caveat being that if they can't they die. Pericles knows what the answer means - that the King is having an affair with his own daughter - but runs away knowing he'll be killed if he answers it. Pericles runs, is shipwrecked, wins the hand of another king in marriage, while returning home his pregnant wife dies in a storm - but she really doesn't as her casket washes ashore and a physician revives her...

Much more goes on until the end - with many thankful the end has arrived. It really isn't a bad play but it isn't great either and without Shakespeare's name attached to it probably wouldn't be mentioned again.

Richard II

The first part of a four part series that starts with this play and runs through Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and concludes with Henry V. Spoiled, whimsically ineffectual, and self-centered King looses his nobles and then his kingdom.

Richard III

The short reign of Richard III, the wicked hunchback who schemed and killed his way to the crown and then quickly lost it all.

"A horse, a horse my kingdom for a horse" but nobody wanted his Kingdom - at least no one who heard his plea.

Romeo and Juliet

Obsessive, pubescent lust ends ancient family feud with impatient double death. One of the most famous of Shakespeare's plays and with good reason. A great ride from first street fight to final death.

Taming of the Shrew

Low-nobility country bumpkin woos and conquers defiant, independent daughter of a wealthy city merchant. Sometimes reviled for its sexist content it is more often enjoyed for its fast pace, great humor, and one, well crafted view of the eternal battle of the sexes.

The Comedy of Errors

The Three Stooges probably loved this play. With two sets of identical twins separated at birth, lots of physical comedy, and ribald puns what more could anyone want? Well how about being possessed, beatings (to the wrong twin), arrests and much more.

A nice romp and, finally, a true comedy.

 

The Merchant of Venice

Another controversial and dark topic explored by Shakespeare. A despised Jewish money lender demands a pound of living fresh from a borrower when he can't repay a loan. In what may seem as a quirk of classification The Merchant of Venice is a Comedy - since nobody dies at the end, ha, ha, ha.

One of the great classics.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

"Returning by popular demand" may be a modern turn of phrase - at least more modern that 400 years ago - but it aptly describes The Merry Wives of Windsor because the play is an excuse to bring back the wildly (then and now) Sir John Falstaff. Sir John, short of money, courts two ladies just to get started. Pretenses of love by the ladies for their won amusement, duels, and embarrassment - for Falstaff - ensue. But in the end all is well and the right men end up with the right women. And ending that is the quintessential comedy.

The Tempest

The last play Shakespeare wrote by himself, The Tempest is a magical, sometimes whimsical, tale of an outcast, Prospero, and his daughter who get a chance to confront the people who drove him from home. His daughter finds love of course and Prospero sorts out all his problems with diplomacy, a bit of magic and help from his whimsical associates.

Timon of Athens

Probably written in collaboration with another, Timon of Athens follows a gullible Athenian who squanders his money on hangers-on, sycophants and false friends. Bankrupt and finally aware of what has happened Timon wants revenge which he gets, sort of, but has to flee to the country as a result. He discovers gold and is rich again. Timon uses his new found wealth to finance revenge against the city he left and then dies in the wilderness.

Titus Andronicus

Thought to be one of Shakespeare's earliest tragedies it is certainly his most gory tale. With bloody deaths, heads, hands and tongues severed Titus Andronicus tells the story of a Roman General (Andronicus) matching wits with the captured Queen of the Goths and a just-crowned treacherous Roman Emperor. Everyone looses and looses hard while one revenge quickly following another dwindles their number.

Not one of the great Shakespearean tragedies.

Troilus and Cressida

While the love - and the destruction of the love - between Troilus and Cressida gives the play its name the story mainly focuses on the end of the Trojan war and the end of Hector. Not one of Shakespeare's best.

Twelfth Night

With characters like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Sir Toby Belch and a pompous, self-absorbed gullible steward, all playing their parts in hopeless love triangles based on a woman masquerading as a man Twelfth Night couldn’t be anything other than one of the great comedies.
Shipwrecked Viola enters the service of Duke Orsino masquerading as a man and is sent to promote the Duke’s amorous suit of Lady Olivia who want nothing to do with the Duke but who becomes enamored with Viola who she thinks is a man. After much drinking, the humiliation of the pompous steward, the appearance of Viola’s identical twin brother, Sebastian, Viola revealing herself as she truly is, all ends well for the people of Illyria after a truly enjoyable romp.

Two Gentlemen of Verona

One of Shakespeare's earliest plays (and perhaps the first). Set in Italy with lots of people falling in and out of love, in and out of jealous hurt and emotional philandering. Add in running away and coming back, women masquerading as men, a band of outlaws led by a man who isn't an outlaw. But all ends with the couples correctly matched and the outlaws forgiven.

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale could easily be two plays in one. The first part sees two childhood friends, kings of the respective countries, split with one accusing the other of having an affair with his pregnant wife. And things quickly go downhill from there. Babies are abandoned to die, found and raised, and people hate and die.

But in the end couples and families are reunited after many wasted years. To enjoy this play you need to find a really good production of it and let the director and actors edit it and bring it to life. Not one of the best.

 

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