Review: Richard II

Richard II
Richard II by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this play! The action is fast-paced and the dialogue is snappy. The characters are all hot-heads who spend half their time insulting one another, then fighting to regain their honor or plotting dastardly conspiracies in the dark.

It was a bit of a struggle to keep up with the politics, but I managed it. I learned that you can never really trust anything a character says, because one minute they are swearing loyalty to the king, and the next minute they are plotting against him. Everybody keeps switching sides and misrepresenting themselves! It didn’t get too confusing though; I was still able to follow what was going on.

King Richard II is such a pathetic figure. He really seems unbalanced, almost like he’s bipolar or something. I didn’t like him in the beginning, but I did like him at the end. At first, he’s like a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum. He gets really sentimental towards the end though, and his grief seems genuine and he speaks from the heart. Poor dude, he’s just all confused and helpless.

Henry Bolingbroke is brave and resourceful and has resounding speeches. From one point of view, he may be a greedy villain grasping for the throne; but he also has a high sense of honor, I think. He is a beautifully written character, almost like a knight from a fairy tale. I love all the chivalrous speeches and the derring-do!

I wish there were more women in this play, but the two ladies that do have small parts are wonderful! The Queen seems intelligent, if a little depressed, and very affectionately attached to her husband. I loved her sweet speeches and her gentle way of talking.

The Duchess of York is another lovely lady. I was so impressed with her tenacious arguments on behalf of her son. She was able to combine forcefulness with gracious language, so that she is strong and confident without being a shrew or a whiner. A good balance, and this delightful lady has only two scenes!

Another great play, and I’m excited to read more of the historical plays of the Bard.

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