The Yorkists have been temporarily victorious and the Duke of York has assumed the throne, but the Lancastrians, led by Queen Margaret, counter-attack. As the fortunes of war shift, both the innocent and the guilty are swept up in the maelstrom. And increasingly dominant amid the chaos is the sinister figure of the crook-backed Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
"One of my favorites"
The all-conquering King Henry V is dead and the throne is occupied by his infant son, Henry VI. The good Duke Humphrey of Gloucester has been appointed protector, but a struggle for power soon develops between the young king's Lancastrian relatives and the powerful house of York under Richard Plantagenet. Meanwhile the French, led by Joan of Arc, the maid of Orleans, threaten to win back the territories lost to Henry V.
"Action-packed, crowded with characters"
Young King Henry VI has married the beautiful Margaret of Anjou but the new queen is ruthless and ambitious. Supported by the powerful Duke of Suffolk, Margaret plots the overthrow of her enemies, chief among them the Duke of Gloucester. But the Duke of York also aspires to the crown, and the common people, led by Jack Cade, are in rebellion. To the despair of the mild young king, England descends into civil war.
"This review is actually for Part Three"
Rebellion still simmers in England and King Henry's health is failing. Prince Hal has proved his courage but the king still fears that his son's pleasure-loving nature will bring the realm to ruin. Meanwhile, Falstaff and his ribald companions waste the nights in revelry, anticipating the moment when Hal will ascend the throne. Falstaff is in Gloucestershire when news arrives that the king has died. Has the dissolute old knight's hour come at last?
The sensitive and poetic Richard II is undoubtedly the rightful king of England but he is unscrupulous and weak. When his cousin Henry Bolingbroke returns from banishment and mounts a challenge to his authority, Richard's right to the throne proves of little help to him. Richard is forced to abdicate, but as his power is stripped away, he gains dignity and self-awareness, and he meets his death heroically.
"it was a little choppy at the beginning."
Telling his followers he is leaving the city on affairs of state, the Duke of Vienna appoints the puritanical Angelo to govern in his absence. Will Angelo prove as virtuous as he seems once power is in his hands? Roaming the city disguised as a friar, the duke looks on as Angelo's lust for the virtuous Isabella sweeps him into the corruption he has so sternly condemned in others. The duke's manipulation at last produces a happy ending for this dark comedy, with its brilliant exploration of the themes of justice and mercy.
While King Henry's England is threatened by rebellion, the king's scapegrace son Hal haunts the taverns of London, his companions a crew of rogues and thieves let by Falstaff. The earl of Northumberland and his fiery son Hotspur scheme to overthrow the crown. Can Hal be brought to a sense of duty as Prince of Wales? Or will the influence of Falstaff prove too strong? The issue is decided when Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff come together at the climactic battle of Shrewsbury.
"Chapters Mixed up"
Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is persecuted by her wicked stepmother, the Queen, and by Cloten, the Queen's doltish son. Disguised as a boy, she sets out to find her husband, the banished Posthumus. On her journey, she unwittingly meets her two brothers, stolen from the court as infants. Posthumus, meanwhile, has been convinced by the villainous Iachimo that Imogen is unchaste and agrees to a test of her faithfulness.
"A fine performance"
Mark Antony, one of the three rulers of the Roman world, has become the thrall of the fascinating Cleopatra. Affairs of state call him to Rome, but the attractions of the queen of Egypt prove impossible to resist. From one of history's greatest love stories Shakespeare builds this magnificent tragedy of the clash between love and duty.
Henry V is a study of kingship, patriotism, and heroic determination tempered by tender comedy as Henry courts Katherine, princess of France. Henry, the noble and courageous young king of England, decides to invade France, believing he has a rightful claim to the throne. At Agincourt he leads his army into battle against the powerful French forces and, against all the odds, wins a famous victory.
"Enjoyable and lets you stand in history's place ."
Brilliantly manipulative and entirely amoral, the hero-villain Richard is one of Shakespeare's greatest roles. The Yorkists have emerged victorious from the civil wars and Edward IV wears the English crown. But Edward's misshapen brother Richard harbors kingly ambitions and will stop at nothing to achieve the throne. In a fatal battle on Bosworth Field, Richard meets the ghosts of all whom he has murdered and the Earl of Richmond, the future King Henry VII.
In the world's most celebrated and lyrical love story, the sublime devotion of two young lovers transcends their earthly fate. The noble Veronese houses of Montague and Capulet are locked in a bitter feud. When Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) fall in love, they are swept up in a series of violent events and cruel twists of fortune. Despite the passion and innocence of their love, they fall victim to the enmity between their families, and their story ends in tragedy.
King John of England is pitted against the united powers of France, Brittany, Austria, and the Papacy. Will England be destroyed by his fatal indecision? As alliances are made, broken, and remade, the paranoid and erratic John reveals his weakness and reliance on those around him - including his powerful mother, Queen Elinor, and Faulconbridge, the cynical and witty bastard son of the dead King Richard I.
"Good production of an inept play"
King Leontes of Sicilia is seized by sudden and terrible jealousy of his wife Hermione, whom he accuses of adultery. He believes the child Hermione is bearing was fathered by his friend Polixenes, and when the baby girl is born he orders her to be taken to some wild place and left to die. Though Hermione's child escapes death, Leontes' cruelty has terrible consequences. Loss paves the way for reunion, and life and hope are born out of desolation and despair.
"Exit, pursued by a bear!"
The noble Titus returns victorious to Rome bringing Tamora, Queen of the Goths as his captive. When one of Tamora's sons is condemned to die, she vows revenge, and, aided by the villainous Aaron, she exacts a terrible retribution, inaugurating a grim cycle of rape, murder, and cannibalism. This macabre, often brilliant tragedy comes from the earliest stage of Shakespeare's dramatic career.
Distressed by his father's death and his mother's over-hasty remarriage, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is faced by a specter from beyond the grave bearing a grim message of murder and revenge. The young prince is driven to the edge of madness by his struggle to understand the situation he finds himself in and to do his duty. Many others, including Hamlet's beloved, the innocent Ophelia, are swept up in his tragedy.
The fabulously rich Timon believes all his friends to be as open-hearted and generous as himself. When his wealth suddenly evaporates, however, he discovers the truth and his altruism turns to a bitter hatred of mankind. Stirred up by the cynical Apemantus, Timon retreats to the woods where he plots the destruction of Athens, the city that had formerly seemed to embody everything pleasurable and civilized. The cosmic scope of his hatred is communicated in a series of powerful and disturbing dramatic tableaux.
The dissolute Falstaff plans to seduce Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, two "Merry Wives of Windsor," there by gaining access to their husbands' wealth. The two women have the old rogue's measure, however, and Falstaff's plots lead only to his own humiliation. But the merry wives themselves fall prey to plotting as their plans to prevent Mistress Page's daughter Anne from marrying the young man she loves are frustrated in their turn.
"So much fun!"
Chaos and confusion mount to a crescendo in a wild and fast-paced comedy of mistaken identity, one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. Young Antipholus of Syracuse is searching the world for his identical twin brother, separated from him at birth. With him is his servant Dromio, who lost his twin brother at the same time. The pair arrive in Ephesus where, unbeknownst to them, their twins are living.
This shattering drama of isolation and loss is one of the greatest tragedies in world literature. King Lear of Britain has three daughters: the hard-hearted Goneril and Regan, and the good and gentle Cordelia. He determines to divide his kingdom between them, giving the largest share to she who can say she loves him the best. Lear's tragic lack of judgment and self-knowledge is paralleled by the blindness of the loyal Gloucester who is persuaded to reject his virtuous son, Edgar, in favor of the villainous Edmund.
"tragedy par excellence"
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare stages the workings of love in unexpected ways. In the woods outside Athens, two young men and two young women sort themselves into couples - but not before they form first one love triangle, and then another. The king and queen of fairyland, Oberon and Titania, battle over custody of an orphan boy. Oberon uses magic to make Titania fall in love with a weaver named Bottom, in an effort to distract Titania from the custody battle.
"Great for Reading along to the Folger edition!"
Proteus loves Julia in Verona, Valentine loves Silvia in Milan. But when Proteus meets Silvia, he falls for her too, and the heartbroken Julia sets out in pursuit. This delightful and sometimes disquieting early comedy of love lost and found offers lyrical poetry, disguise, clowning, outlaws, and a most unreliable dog.
Young Claudio has fallen for the lovely heiress Hero, who also loves him. Their path to the altar looks smooth, until the evil Don John intervenes. All ends happily, thanks to his incompetent assassins and the lucky discoveries of the bungling constable Dogberry. Central to the play, one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies, are Beatrice and Benedick, masters of wit and sworn foes to marriage - until a plot is hatched to bring them together.
The young and virtuous physician's daughter Helena desperately loves Count Bertram, but he regards her as beneath his notice. When Helena cures the king of France of a mortal illness, he rewards her with Bertram's hand, but before their marriage can be consummated the count flees. To win her husband back again, Helena forms a daring and resourceful plan. A plot to unmask the strutting soldier Parolles makes up another strand in this sometimes disturbing comedy of deception and disguise.
This performance stars Dame Sybil Thorndike, Sir Lewis Casson & Ralph Truman (as King Henry VIII).
©2008 Saland Publishing; (P)2008 Saland Publishing
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