Dramas and plays are definitely not given their due in literature. Everyone exalts poetry and fiction, but dramas are neatly forgotten , studied only as a part of literature courses and studied as informants of literary history. But they have a literary quality unlike any other form – brevity (or lack) of descriptions and colloquial, impactful dialogue. Here’s a list of the 10 best plays to read this year. These are probably top 10 plays you can read from the last century or so.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

10 Best Plays to Read This Year - A Streetcar Named Desire
10 Best Plays to Read This Year – A Streetcar Named Desire

This play follows a Southern belle, Blanche DuBois who loses her family inheritance and comes to stay with her sister and ‘barbarian’ brother-in-law, Stanley. At once an exploration of glamour, pretense and wealth and a story full of love and hope, this Pulitzer prize winner is one of a kind. Its bleak urbane setting adds to the effect.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Top 10 Plays You Can Read - A Doll’s House
Top 10 Plays You Can Read – A Doll’s House

Norwegian playwright Ibsen outdoes himself with this play, whose title is an allegory for a woman’s fragile family life. The play follows the unraveling of a broken marriage. It’s a commendable feat that Ibsen shows his demurely feministic heroine call it quits on her marriage. The psychological impact of the play in tremendous.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest

In this satirical romantic play, we follow a hilarious mix-up that leads almost to the breakage of two romantic relationships. The ‘Earnest’ in the title is a pun, for the name of the main character is Earnest but he is actually dishonest. Oscar Wilde’s dialogue shines with wit and thinly laced satirical humour here, and it’s a treat to read.

Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill

10 Best Plays to Read This Year - Mourning Becomes Electra
10 Best Plays to Read This Year – Mourning Becomes Electra

Greek Electra gets a twist in O’Neill’s acclaimed play which follows a General whose wife poisons him. His son and daughter then avenge him by killing their mother. Post the son’s suicide, the daughter becomes a recluse. With intense themes of family, betrayal and matricide, this play is heavy but impactful.

Mulatto by Langston Hughes

Top 10 Plays You Can Read - Mulatto
Top 10 Plays You Can Read – Mulatto

The protagonist of this play is the natural son of a white Southern plantation owner and his Black slave, who obtains an education in the North. This education teaches him that the situation of his mother isn’t right, and that slavery is absolute racial subjugation. Exploring his usual themes of race and power, Hughes outdoes himself in this play.

Silence! The Court is in Session by Vijay Tendulkar

Silence! The Court is in Session
Silence! The Court is in Session

Hailed as one of the best plays from modern India, this one follows a theatre company rehearsing a court-play. The play within the play takes a dark turn when the members start meta-trolling a decent woman for having a child outside marriage. The woman, in fact, is pregnant, and takes it to heart. This feministic look at a man’s world is terrifying.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

10 Best Plays to Read This Year - A Raisin in the Sun
10 Best Plays to Read This Year – A Raisin in the Sun

This story about a Black family in South Chicago, revolving around themes of money, poverty, racial prejudice and more is a classic. Hansberry’s play is an exemplar of characterization, with intricate motives and backstories and dreams attributed to each character.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Top 10 Plays You Can Read - Death of a Salesman
Top 10 Plays You Can Read – Death of a Salesman

Willie Loman is a classic character in his own right, and someone who stays in mind. This tragic play follows his journey as a salesman who has come to a dead end in his career. His character is incredibly complex – his jealousy at other’s success, almost cruelty at times feels disgusting yet we sympathise with him.  

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw

Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man

Set in the Scandinavian landscapes, this war play follows a young, enigmatic heroine who gives up her romantic ideals in favour of an ordinary yet fulfilling true love. She chooses the simple love of a truly heroic yet flawed man over the charismatic pretense of another. This ‘anti-romantic’ play is a must read for the simplicity of language and wonderful characters.

The Fire and The Rain by Girish Karnad

10 Best Plays to Read This Year - The Fire and The Rain
10 Best Plays to Read This Year – The Fire and The Rain

Karnad is one of the best playwrights in India as of now, and this play of his unfolds in the times of the Mahabharata. However, it does not feature any character we know from him, creating a mythological fiction of sorts. The plot is ingenious and his characters well fleshed out, making the play a must watch.

Also Read: Epic Books For Kids: 10 All Time Classic Retellings of Epics For Kids

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