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on 25 November 2013
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;” (5v)
I can't believe how long it has taken me to discover this jewel of a play. I bow to Greg Doran's production, David Tennant's Richard II, complete with red hair extensions, and the RSC's 2013 cast. A stunning production which led me to read and reread this several times despite having avoided the history plays for many years. Tennant brought out the beauty of Shakespeare's language and walked the tightrope between an arrogant, self aggrandising king convinced of his divine right to rule, and a vulnerable man facing his own mortality. As Bolinbroke's star comes into the ascendant so, surprisingly, sympathy for him wanes and Richard's moral superiority rises. Shakespeare has created a fascinating hero. He may be irritating as hell and sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, yet it is Richard's speeches I am constantly drawn to. One of the masterful strokes in this play is that the politics always seem murky, roles are frequently reversed, we never quite know the truth of Gloucester's murder, who has been deceiving whom, or who will commit the next treasonous act. And have I mentioned Shakespeare's language? Just stunning. Yet so compact.

Richard II to Bolingbroke “Good king, great king, and yet not greatly good,” (4i) Unpick that, and yet, ostensibly it's a throwaway line; the play is full of them. How does Shakespeare do it?

Having said that, I think this is a play that is begging to be seen not read. If this play has not stunned you on a reading, go and watch a good performance; so much is in the nuances of the language. During Elizabeth's reign the play was so politically explosive that the deposition scene could be performed, but could not be recorded as the written copy was treasonous. It wasn't published in full till 1608. In 1601,the Duke of Essex commissioned a public performance of a play, thought to be Richard II. The next morning he started a rebellion. (He was captured. The players were held for questioning but later released - however they performed the play at royal command to Elizabeth I the night before Essex was executed.) Explosive stuff.

As for a summary of the play, just 9 words from Richard will do it: “Give me the crown. Here, cousin, seize the crown;” (4i) Game of Thrones anyone?
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I think this play is under-rated, and it's intriguing that during the time of Elizabeth, one of her favourites, Essex, had it performed the night before he attempted to lead a rebellion against her. With its main theme of legitimacy versus competency, it's the first of four plays in the Henriad, the four historical plays ending with Henry V.

I always feel really sorry for Richard by the end, who clearly has touches of compassion, tenderness, and even boldness that don't seem to come out during his day-to-day, whimsical, even badly advised, reign. When the RSC changed the ending in its recent David Tennant production, I thought it did a great disservice to some of its echoes of, say, Henry II's complicity in the death of Thomas Becket.
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on 26 November 2013
One of Shakespeare's great history plays which is not always performed but I read the text as I was privileged to be at the first live screening of the play, from the Festival Theatre in Stratford worldwode and to cities in England. I thoroughly enjoyed the play which has some truly memorable speeches in it. The Kindle version is very approachable with good highlights.
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on 9 May 2014
I bought this after watching the theatre production. I love the historical reference and the political attire within the play. Its amazing to think how long ago it was written.
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on 4 December 2013
Got this for a quick read and refresh before watching David Tennant in role
Excellent as ever, much lighter than carrying round a paper version!
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on 29 April 2015
This is almost perfect. Sometimes, these free versions are unreadable but this is absolutely fine. Why pay when you can read this for free!
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on 26 June 2014
There's nothing to dislike about this book if you're a Shakespeare fan - it's a good quality Kindle book which I recommend to all.
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on 29 August 2014
Shakespeare at his sublime best!
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on 30 July 2015
Great item, thanks.
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on 4 April 2015
Could not be better
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