This study analyzes several burlesques to examine how such social and political comment takes place through a form of dialog in which the burlesque engages with the cultural claims of serious revivals of Shakespeare. It concentrates on how burlesque dramas’ treatment of Shakespearean plays reflects key attitudes and tensions in Victorian society, highlighting these through the incongruities between Shakespeare as known to their audience and as presented in the plays. The theatrical burlesques composed in the Victorian age adapt Shakespeare to address the habits, tastes, cultural and social values and preoccupations of their audiences. Hence, issues of social class, gender, race, political topicality, and the social status of the plays’ addressees, are addressed. The changes and tensions in Victorian drama through burlesques are central to an understanding of nineteenth-century popular culture and society. By focusing on concepts of high and low culture in Shakespearean burlesques, both externally and internally, this study takes a distinctive angle which integrates literary analysis with study of audience and cultural reception to provide a better understanding of the cultural significance of these humorous satiric plays.