"Now is the winter of our discontent..." With these timeless words, Duke Richard - lounging on his sun deck - sets his murderous plans in motion. His goal: to eliminate the hated rival ... See full summary »
Maria Conchita Alonso
When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and ... See full summary »
David Hugh Jones
BBC Shakespeare's history cycle ran right the way from this play, 'Richard II', through to 'Richard III', by way of Henries IV, V, and VI.
A neglected play, entirely in verse, and often thought superficial and unlikely to stand up to study (rarely taught in schools, for example), 'Richard II' is nevertheless one of Shakespeare's most engrossing and beautiful plays. It has passages of text that have gone down into theatre legend, not least John O'Gaunt's 'Methinks I am a prophet new inspired'.
In casting this production surpassed itself. Derek Jacobi brings Richard a soul and a spirit, whether he is playing him as vain and selfish in the early scenes, or broken and discouraged post-deposition. It is a tricky role which he performs extremely well. Opposing him as the future Henry IV is Jon Finch, who also left us a memorable film Macbeth a few years earlier, an actor of considerable range who seems to have worked little in recent years. Here he is a perfect foil to the spoilt Richard.
In support, John Gielgud gives a mighty performance as Gaunt, while the likes of Charles Gray, Wendy Hiller, and Mary Morris, bring life to other, more minor roles. The sets are not expensive or, backdrops at least, that convincing, but the play and text is strong enough for that not to matter.
A highly recommended version of a play rarely filmed or performed, and a good scene setter for the rest of the History Plays.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?