Carol's suggested method of 1) reading each play in one sitting, and 2) reading while listening. This weekend I took the plunge with Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Knowing how difficult it can be to keep everybody straight, I read a quick synopsis of the play before opening up my Kindle. Then I downloaded the audioversion from Librivox. Although I was not able to read it in just one sitting, I managed to get through it in one day, which was extremely helpful for remembering who was who and for getting the flow of the story.
The play had the same themes as several other Shakespeare plays I've seen: forbidden love, arranged marriages, women disguising themselves as men, fickle suitors, etc. In this case Valentine loves Silvia, but her father forbids it. Proteus loves Julia, but dumps her when he sees Silvia. Valentine and Proteus are/were best friends.
All the characters are constant in their love except for Proteus. He breaks his promises, lies, dumps his friends, threatens to force himself upon Siliva and is an all around heel. Why Julia loves him is beyond me.
Luckily, my expectations were not too high since the synopsis had let me know this was not one of Shakespeare's more popular plays. Also, the readers at Librivox were okay, but not great, which also detracted from my pleasure.
But it was worth the effort for it witty puns and its commentary on the thrills and foibles of romantic love.
O! how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by an by a cloud takes all away! (Act 1, scene 3)
Love is like a child,
That longs for everything that he can come by. (Act 3, scene 1)
[Valentine to Sylvia:]
O thou that dost inhabit in my breast,
Leave not the mansion so tenantless,
Lest, growing ruinous, the building fall
And leave no memory of what it was!
Repair me with thy presence, Silvia! (Act 5, scene 4)
These Shakespeare titles are free for Kindle.