I've said this before and I'll say it again. Shakespeare never ceases to amaze me. I attended a performance of Much Ado about Nothing two days ago, and the audience spent some 60% of its time in splits - by the time we got out of there my sides hurt from laughing so much. Obviously, a lot of that is the acting and what the performance is able to bring out, but it never ceases to astonish me that a 400 year old script can still seem so relevant, so accessible  . And it's not like Much Ado is one of his greatest plays or anything.
The trouble with reading Shakespeare / watching his plays performed, I think, is that it's impossible to empty your head of all the literary / cultural baggage that we bring to him. I can never help wondering, as I sit through one of his plays, how much of what seems familiar to me was new and startling when it first came out. What would it have felt like to watch the first performance of Othello, to hear that green-eyed monster line for the first time? Was there a time when that balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet was an innovative way of staging? How much of this banter between two sincere but clueless watchmen was avant garde stuff in its time?
Or, put more generally (for the problem is hardly exclusive to Shakespeare), how do we deal with an artistic endeavour so successful that it has become an integral part of our culture, has become, in other words, cliche? We can appreciate what's beautiful in it, of course, but how do we recover that sense of innovation, that feeling of surprise?
 Well, almost accessible. I have to say that there were a few points in the play where I was the only person laughing. You know the bit in Act III, Scene 3 where the watch is being given their charge? We got more than halfway through that before anyone else seemed to realise it was a joke.