Man, that’s like asking me to pick a favourite child.
In a death is not an option scenario, I would have to go with either Much Ado About Nothing, or Macbeth. Much Ado because it is the grandfather of romantic-comedy as a genre, and Macbeth because…I love the unrelenting logic of the plot. Directors always get hung up on the witches and whether they take away from Macbeth’s agency or not, which I think is to miss the point. Shakespeare makes it very, very clear that it doesn’t matter WHY Macbeth committed his crimes, he still did them, and the entire last act of the play strips away every excuse he could possibly make, until he finally takes responsibility for his own actions.
That said, there are a tonne of Shakespeare plays I enjoy – Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, Measure for Measure, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, As You Like It, Midsummer Night’s Dream. King Lear reduces me to a sobbing mess every single time I go to see it, so I can’t say I LIKE the play exactly, but I do admire it. Julius Caesar STARTS brilliantly, but I’ve never seen a production that could make the last hour of the play work, which makes me think it’s a fault of the text and not the directors. Even the Henry VI’s are surprisingly watchable if they’re done well.
That said, Henry VIII, King John, Cymbeline and the Two Noble Kinsmen aren’t worth anyone’s time, and I learned that the hard way.