SEPTEMBER 27, 2013


I am in no way a Shakespeare scholar and watching his plays can be a challenge because of the nature of the dialogue, especially when you are entirely unaware of the narrative like I was with RICHARD II. But when I saw that these were going to be lavish productions Executive Produced by Sam Mendes and starring some of my favorite British actors, I couldn’t resist checking it out and giving it a few minutes of my time to see if it was worth the 2 ½ hour commitment.
I am glad I did. It was top-notch from start to finish. Any fears I had that I wouldn’t be able to follow the narrative were immediately wiped away as I was instantly engrossed by the simply phenomenal performances and incredible production value.
RICHARD II tells the tale of the self-absorbed King who believes too much in his own hype and seems to care more about himself than the people he rules. While settling a dispute between Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray, he banishes both men from the Kingdom disregarding what affect this may have on the morale of his subjects who have come to embrace and love Bolingbroke. When Richard II adds insult to injury to Bolingbroke by taking away his land and inheritance so he can fund a war with France, Bolingbroke returns to England prematurely to set everything right. What transpire from this permanently alters the course of English history.
Ben Whishaw gives an absolutely amazing performance as Richard II as we see his fall from grace. The cast also includes equally stellar performances by Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Morrissey and James Purefoy.
If you have any interest in watching Shakespeare (which you should), it doesn’t get much better than this. A MUST WATCH and worthy of your time. I can’t wait to see the other installments HENRY IV and HENRY V. They’re airing on PBS’ GREAT PERFORMANCES and available on DVD.