Reading/Watching Shakespeare: Richard II

A few days ago I finish the beginning of what will the tetralogy of Shakespeare’s plays that comprise of Richard II; Henry IV part 1 & 2; Henry V; Henry VI part 1, 2 and 3. I am also taking Richard III  on the end as well. I was challenged to do this by a friend of mine who played Prince Hal in an adaptation of Henry V part 1 – which I saw.

Knowing what I know now, I believe that if anyone intends on embarking on this task that ‘The War of The Roses’ doesn’t really begin to Henry IV part 1; however, the political unrest that caused the eventual rise of the Tudor’s begins with the deposition of Richard II.

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The play is estimated to be written in 1595 and was listed as a history in the First Folio, in the earlier Quarto it was called The tragedie of King Richard the second. The play spans the last 2 years of King Richard’s life and chronicles the fall of Richard and rise of Ballingbrooke (who later became Henry IV).

This play was no so much hard to read, but hard to follow at first. I was getting confused with the name changes and the like. Once I read a synopsis of the play and understood that some characters changed names, the process became a lot easier although by this stage I was halfway through the play.

All in all watching David Tennant’s portrayal for a second time I understood a lot more of what was happening and the entire context of which it was written, I am not sure it is just one that I would go back too.

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