Q: Shakespeare's Shortest Play
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0716. Tuesday, 5 September 1994.
From: Blair Kelly III <
Date: Monday, 5 Sep 1994 14:46:40 -0400
Subject: Which is Bill's shortest play?
I believe the answer is Comedy of Errors. However if any experts would like to
correct me, I would appreciate the education! (Am I overlooking differing
quarto versions, variant texts, etc?)
I am basing my conclusion on a line and word count of the corpus of 37 plays
that I have on-line.
line count word count
1. 6051 hamlet 32253 hamlet
2. 6004 anthony 31692 richard-3
3. 5841 coriolanus 29342 coriolanus
4. 5781 richard-3 28981 cymbeline
5. 5531 lear 28003 henry-4.2
33. 3704 john 18368 verona
34. 3611 verona 18310 macbeth
35. 3405 tempest 17450 tempest
36. 3121 midsum 17203 midsum
37. 2943 errors 16263 errors
The reason for my asking is that as part of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
(now ongoing and which I recommend to anyone in the area), the actors of
"Shakespeare's Skum" (presenting fractured - and hilarious - renditions of the
Bard's plays) this year presented "Shakespeare in Double Jeopardy" - a take off
on the popular quiz show where in this version all the topics are about Bill's
plays. Unfortunately, I was not chosen as a contestant (much to the
disappointment of my friends who know me to be a Shakespeare groupie). So I
sat in the audience and told my friends - sotto voice - the answers to the
questions of which play or which character the actors were presenting in short
(and funny) skits. I had a perfect score until the final Jeopardy question
"Which is Shakespeare's shortest play?" - and the answer judged correct was
Macbeth! (my guess at the time was Comedy of Errors).
Help me save my reputation with my friends!
Blair Kelly III