What are the best plays of the 20th century?

asked by Anonymous
352 contributors
16 solutions
  1. 36

    #1The Crucible

    The Crucible

    The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller tells the story of Abigail Williams, who was wrongfully charged with witchcraft in 17th century Salem. The story was inspired by the persecution of communists in the US during the McCarthy era.


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    Rose Barnes
    Written on May 6, 2018
    "The Crucible is the one of the greatest plays ever written. Hopefully everyone had to read it in high school, but if not, you should take the time to do so. It's stuck with me for over 20 years."
  2. 34



    Arcadia is a classic play written by Tom Stoppard which is set between the 19th and 20th century discussing the difference between the Classical and the Romantic temperament, as well as the influence of sex. 


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    Marie Williams
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "Plays are defining objects from their time. Arcadia is a remarkable piece."
  3. 33

    #3One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    This is one of the most imports novels of the 60's and from American history. The unforgettable story of a mental ward and the people living there and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched and McMurphy.

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    Wayne Austin
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "An excellent novel and brilliant film, likely makes for an excellent stage adaptation. "
  1. 31

    #4Of Mice and Men

    Of Mice and Men
    Of Mice and Men is a book by John Steinbeck that follows the story of George, small but smart, and Lennie, big and strong but mentally challenged, as they set off in a journey to look for a livelihood during the Great Depression.

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    Peter Murphy
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This was recommended to me from a friend so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Glad I did. Its pretty good ."
  2. 30



    Winner of a Tony Award, this play explores the true meaning of art, which gets the form of a solid white painting. This work of art is also used to investigate the meaning of the friendship between the man who has bought the painting and his two friends who go to see it. 


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    Eric Rios
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "Yasmina Reza has risen to the top of the pile in contemporary theater, but I hadn't read or seen any of the plays until now. To be honest, I picked this up on a whim and I'm glad I did. It will especially resonate if you follow the art world, but that's not really necessary. The dialogue is top notch and it truly has something to say about the world we live in. Among the best contemporary plays, imo."
  3. 28



    Antigone is a story written by ancient writer Sophocles about Antigone, the heroine who challenged the King of Thebes into a dangerous test of wills for the right to bury her brother. This version is translated and printed in 2005.


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    Jeremy Obrien
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "Ive never heard of it and it seems a little dry. I am sure there are better plays."
  4. 27

    #7Arsenic and Old Lace

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Arsenic and Old Lace is Joseph Kesselring's 1939 black comedy play about Mortimer Brewster and his homicidal family. His aunts are poisoning old men with arsenic and cyanide, while one of his brothers thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt. 


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    Paul Holland
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "I received this book called "Arsenic and Old Lace" as a random gift from a friend of mine who was getting rid of old stuff. He told me it's a "black comedy" so of course I immediately accepted his offer because I love anything that's funny, even if it has dark humor. Actually, the darker the humor, the funnier it is to me! Unfortunately as I read this book, it just felt too old timey for me. It kept making me think of the past in black and white as the characters did their thing. In other words, I got bored to hell that I ended up watching some documentary on tv instead. Maybe if this story was in video form I'd appreciate it more, but as it is now, it's just something that makes me yawn."
  5. 26

    #8Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    Written by Tennessee Williams, this book narrates the story of Big Daddy Pollit, a cotton tycoon who lives in his Mississippi plantation with his family. The book focuses mainly in the relationship between his eldest son, Brick, and his wife Maggie, also known as 'Cat'.


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    Alejandro Aguirre
    Written on April 14, 2018
    "The writing and storyline of this book was just too dated for me. Nothing was relevant to my interests and I found myself bored at the slow pace. Might be better for someone else."
  6. 25

    #9A Raisin in the Sun

    A Raisin in the Sun

    A Raisin in the Sun is a classic play written by Lorraine Hansberry which centers on a working-class family living in Chicago connected with the psyche of black America.


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    Christine Hoffman
    Written on April 13, 2018
  7. 23

    #10A Streetcar Named Desire

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    A Streetcar Named Desire is Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer-winning play about Blanche DuBois and her attempt to have a normal life while living with her sister Stella and her abusive husband Stanley Kowalski.                                                     


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    Anthony Myers
    Written on April 14, 2018
    "ive seen this performed once or twice that i can remember. it was pretty good and its considered one of the classics of our time"
  8. 14



    Pygmalion is a play by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1913. It draws inspiration from the ancient Greek legend of Pygmalion. The hit musical My Fair Lady is based on this stage play.


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    Olivia Little
    Written on April 26, 2018
    "I highly recommend you read this if you enjoyed the play or musical. The book is a gem."
  9. 11

    #12Our Town

    Our Town

    Our Town is a classic fiction book written by Thornton Wilder. This play is first published in 1938 and reproduced by Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 


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    Bertha Cano
    Written on May 8, 2018
    "I finished this a week ago(in less than a day) and can't stop thinking about it. I have never seen the play but wanted to finally know the story. I can not wait to see it onstage since the play was so powerful on paper. Read/see this - you will never regret it."
  10. 8


    Galileo is a German biography book written by Bertolt Brecht. This dramatic science non-fiction book is first published in 1943 and reproduced by Grove Press. 

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    Scott Newman
    Written on April 20, 2018
    "I'm not sure how accurate this book is. But, it's interesting regardless of that fact."
  11. 8

    #14Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a classic fiction written by Tom Stoppard and edited by Henry Popkin. This tragic fiction was originally published in 1966.


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    Janet Stone
    Written on May 9, 2018
    "I thought this was pretty good. It's a retelling of Hamlet that kind of goes in a different direction. Overall I think it's worth checking out at least once. "
  12. 2

    #15The Glass Menagerie

    The Glass Menagerie

    The Glass Menagerie is a play by Tennessee Williams which tells the story of a mother with her son and daughter, and her daughter's suitor who all cling to a dream world so fragile and easily shattered. It was published in 1999 by New Directions.


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    Timothy Brooks
    Written on May 16, 2018
    "For a homework assignment, I needed one of the best plays of the 20th century. It was recommended to me to try the Glas Menagerie. I tried it out, but I think there are better ones out there, such as Phantom of the Opera. It was interesting, just not one of the very best I believe."
  13. 0

    #16The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War

    The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War
    The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War is a play by the acclaimed writer, Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1938. Drawing from his own experiences during the war, Hemingway writes about war-torn Madrid.

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    Dorothy Gibson
    Written on April 26, 2018
    "The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War was Hemingways only full length play and was certainly the best of the 20th century. Lots of humor and surprisingly not very popular. Anyone considering this play should give it a try. "


Best What are the best plays of the 20th century
1The CrucibleBooks 36 Paid
2ArcadiaBooks 34 Paid
3One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestBooks 33 Paid
4Of Mice and MenBooks 31 Paid
5ArtBooks 30 Paid
6AntigoneBooks 28 Paid
7Arsenic and Old LaceBooks 27 Paid
8Cat on a Hot Tin RoofBooks 26 Paid
9A Raisin in the SunBooks 25 Paid
10A Streetcar Named DesireBooks 23 Paid

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