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"
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.
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 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"
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"
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.
Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston star in Shakespeare's tragedy of love and power. As part of BBC Radio 3's celebration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston star in this brand-new production. Lovers, politicians, superstars... Antony & Cleopatra is Shakespeare’s late and epic tragedy of mature love, and the catastrophic fall from grace and power that it brings about.
Paul Scofield, Siobhan McKenna and John Neville perform Twelfth Night. This is Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores - only to be pursued by the woman he loves.
"Loved it "
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.
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."
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!"
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"
At the heart of this tragic history is one of Shakespeare's most noble characters, the statesman Brutus, who is caught in a devastating conflict between private affection and public duty.
Julius Caesar has become the most powerful man in the Rome. Does his power now threaten the very existence of the Republic itself? A conspiracy is hatched, one that will have fatal consequences not only for Caesar and the conspirators but for the future history of the ancient world.
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.
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.
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 ."
Palamon and Arcite, cousins and bosom friends, are taken prisoner by Duke Theseus of Athens. While in captivity, they spy the beautiful Emilia. Both fall instantly in love with her, and their attachment to each other turns to hate. This dark-edged tragicomedy is now widely regarded as having been written by Shakespeare in collaboration with John Fletcher. Composed sometime in 1613-14, The Two Noble Kinsmen is the final play in Shakespeare's dramatic career.
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.
The young king of Navarre and three of his courtiers have vowed to lock themselves away for three years of study and fasting, and to forswear the company of women for this period. No sooner is their vow made than it is tested, however, as the princess of France and three of her ladies arrive in Navarre on a diplomatic mission. The young men fall instantly and hopelessly in love, and the tension between their vow and their passion forms the subject of this charming and sparkling early comedy.
"Cast list? Scene breaks?"
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.
Petruchio arrives in Padua determined to gain his fortune by marrying the volatile Katherina. Their tempestuous meeting and marriage leads to a great love affair. This is perhaps the most famous play ever written about the battle of the sexes. (A full-cast production.)
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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