Monday, August 31, 2009
Richard II by William Shakespeare
For the first time in my attempt to read all of Shakespeare's plays, I found myslef in the middle of one going 'what the **** is the plot of this play?' It's not that the plot wasn't clear, it's just that I, personally, got totally lost.
I honestly will not accept all the blame for this (which is not to say I SHOULDN'T accept all the blame, just that I won't). This play is drawn from English history, and I think Shakespeare honestly kind of assumes the audience will have some freakin' clue what he's talking about before he starts. Which I don't. My knowledge of English history is pretty horrible, actually. So, I knew there was a War of the Roses, and that it had York and Lancaster as the two civil war sides, and that it had knights and stuff, but the rest? Not so much.
So, yes, indeed, I will fully admit, I had to go lookup what the plot of what I was reading was about, at one point. I am suitably shamed.
Perhaps this goes a ways to explaining why I didn't really enjoy this play. Which was sad, because I felt like I COULD have enjoyed it. A few of the characters felt really interesting, particularly Richard himself, whose verbal wanderings are at once maddening and fascinating. But, in the end, the story seems to be about a king who has no real talents or purpose, but who thinks God has made him king for a reason. The defense of divine right, I think is meant to be serious but, perhaps simply just because of the distance in time, feels preposterous. The guy is a terrible king! Isn't it a GOOD thing when he stops being king?
This is the first in a string of plays about the War of the Roses. IT will be interesting to see if they make more sense as I go along.