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The Second Part of Henry the Sixth (1983)

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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First Murderer / Ship's Master
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King Henry VI
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Walter Whitmore / Alexander Iden
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John Hume / Lieutenant
Anne Carroll ...
Duchess of Gloucester
Paul Chapman ...
Duke of Suffolk
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Richard Plantagenet
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Thomas Horner / Lord Clifford
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Duke of Buckingham
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Duke of Somerset / Smith the Weaver
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Earl of Salisbury / Cler of Chartham
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Lord Say
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Queen Margaret
Derek Fuke ...
Simpcox / George Bovis
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Storyline

Following his father's early death and the loss of possessions in France young Henry VI comes to the throne, under the protection of the duke of Gloucester. He is unaware that there are other claimants to the throne, Plantagent of York and Somerset of Lancaster, whose factions will ultimately cause the Wars of the Roses. Ignorant of the schisms Henry tries to unite them in the Hundred Years War, capturing Joan of Arc, before he marries Margaret of Anjou to unite England and France, but there is no dowry, angering the court. Margaret finds the pious Henry a dull husband and embarks upon an affair with Somerset as well as crossing Gloucester's wife Eleanor. When Gloucester is arrested for alleged treason because of Eleanor Henry is too feeble to prevent his death or the country slipping into civil war.

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9 January 1983 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Henry VI, Part Two  »

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Trivia

A strong element of verfremdungseffekt in this production is the use of doubling, particularly in relation to actors David Burke and Trevor Peacock. Burke plays Henry's most loyal servant, Gloucester, but after Gloucester's death, he plays Jack Cade's right-hand man, Dick the Butcher. Peacock plays Cade himself, having previously appeared in The First Part of Henry the Sixt as Lord Talbot, representative of the English chivalry so loved by Henry. Both actors play complete inversions of their previous characters, re-creating both an authentically Elizabethan theatrical practice and providing a Brechtian political commentary. See more »

Quotes

Dick the Butcher: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
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User Reviews

 
Not entirely dreadful
21 January 2008 | by See all my reviews

This is one of Shakespeare's earliest and weakest plays, but that doesn't excuse this production. The two leads (Peter Benson as King Henry and Julia Foster as Queen Margaret) are intolerable. Benson has some excuse, since playing a weak and useless king (who was in fact insane) makes it difficult to avoid acting weak and useless. Julia Foster, however, seemed to avoid acting altogether, in favor of simply glowering throughout the entire play. (In Part I, this made male characters' infatuation with her simply ridiculous). As usual with the BBC Shakespeare, however, most of the minor characters are well-portrayed; with, however, the exception of Ron Cook as the future Richard III, which bodes ill for the sequels.

As was regrettably fashionable at the time, the production is minimalist while the directing is over-done, especially some of the later battle scenes. But when the leads and the director get out of the way, some of the Shakespeare shines through.


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