King Richard III (Cambridge School Shakespeare) Info

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This edition presents a new look at King Richard III in
accordance with the work of the Shakespeare and Schools Project, the
National Curriculum for English and developments at GCSE and A level.
Cambridge School Shakespeare considers the play as theatre and the text
as script, enabling pupils to inhabit the imaginative world of the play
in an accessible, meaningful and creative way. Cambridge School
Shakespeare encourages students to participate actively in examining the
plays, to work in groups as well as individually, to treat the play as a
script to be re-created, and to explore the theatrical/dramatic
qualities of the text. The editorial comments cater for pupils of all
ages and abilities, providing clear, helpful guidelines for school
study. The format of the plays is also designed to help all teachers,
whether experienced or inexperienced.

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Reviews for King Richard III (Cambridge School Shakespeare):

4

Oct 22, 2009

Richard III, abridged:

RICHARD: Mwahahaha! Mwahahahahaha! Mwahaha!
CLARENCE: Hey brother! So, I guess I'm being sent to the Tower of London. Sucks, right?
RICHARD: Don't worry, Clarence, you'll be fine. I'll try and get you out, and certainly won't hire assassins to kill you or anything.
CLARENCE: Awesome! You're the best!
RICHARD: Mwahahaha!
ANNE: You killed my husband and my son in the last play, you asshole! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!
RICHARD: I only killed your husband because you're so fucking hot.
Richard III, abridged:

RICHARD: Mwahahaha! Mwahahahahaha! Mwahaha!
CLARENCE: Hey brother! So, I guess I'm being sent to the Tower of London. Sucks, right?
RICHARD: Don't worry, Clarence, you'll be fine. I'll try and get you out, and certainly won't hire assassins to kill you or anything.
CLARENCE: Awesome! You're the best!
RICHARD: Mwahahaha!
ANNE: You killed my husband and my son in the last play, you asshole! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!
RICHARD: I only killed your husband because you're so fucking hot.
ANNE: OMG TAKE ME RIGHT NOW.
RICHARD: Mwahahahaha.
MARGARET: YOU'RE ALL GONNA DIE BECAUSE OF RICHARD! I CURSE ALL YOU FUCKERS!
EVERYONE: *ignores Margaret*
EDWARD V: The king is dead! Good thing he made you Lord Protector, Richard, so now you can make sure no one steals my throne.
RICHARD: Yeah...so you know what the best hotel in town is? The tower of London. I got you and your brother a suite.
EDWARD V: Awesome! Let's go!
RICHARD: Mwahahahahahaha! Hey everybody, those kids are bastards. I should be king instead.
EVERYONE: WOOOO! WE LOVE RICHARD!
HASTINGS: Okay, I was fine with all the usurping and mudering up until now but...seriously dude, I gotta ask: WHY ARE YOU SO EVIL?
RICHARD: I'm a hunchback. Discussion closed. Oh, and you're under arrest. Say hi to my dead nephews for me.
BUCKINGHAM: Wait, what? Dude, you have officially overdone it. I'm out.
RICHARD: Memo to self: get Buckingham killed. Mwahaha.
ELIZABETH: Okay Richard, you've now killed my two sons, my brothers, and I'm not completely sure you didn't kill my husband too. What else could you possibly do to me?
RICHARD: Well, your daughter's kinda hot. And fortunately, my wife just came down with a deadly illness - the symptoms include head/neck separation, very gross - and I've got to start making some legitimate heirs, if ya know what I mean.
ELIZABETH: Fuck you. The Earl of Richmond is gonna kill you so hard.
RICHARD: Oh shit, that's right, we're being invaded. Guess I'd better head over to Bosworth field, then.
AUDIENCE: Oh thank god, it's nearly over.
(For those of you keeping score at home, Richard's current body count is ELEVEN FUCKING PEOPLE.)
GHOSTS OF LITERALLY EVERYONE IN THE PLAY: BOOGEDY BOOGEDY BOOGEDY! You're so gonna die tomorrow, Richard, because we're on the Earl of Richmond's side. In fact, we've already started calling him Henry VII. DESPAIR AND DIE, MOTHERFUCKER!
RICHARD: Mwaha...ha?
AUDIENCE: SERIOUSLY CAN HE PLEASE GET KILLED ALREADY SO I CAN GO TO THE BATHROOM?
RICHARD: All right men, first let me say thanks for sticking with me, despite the fact that all my close friends seem to mysteriously die whenever they disagree with me. Secondly: Yorkists, ready your breakfasts and eat hearty. FOR TONIGHT, WE DINE IN HELL! MWAHAHAHAHAHA-aaaack! That hurt! AND WHERE THE FUCK DID MY HORSE GO?
HENRY VII: I KEEL YOU!
RICHARD: Oh, fuck. *dies*
AUDIENCE: Thank god. *sprints for the bathrooms*

THE END.

...more
4

May 12, 2007


I remembered this play as being nothing more than a superb melodrama organized around a charismatic, one-dimensional villain, but I now realize it is more complex than that.

Richard's deformity is not merely a physical sign of spiritual evil, but also a metaphor for the twisted era of internecine and intra-generational violence of which he himself is the inevitable conclusion. Richard claims that his disability disqualifies him for a peaceful age's love-making, but his effective wooing of Lady
I remembered this play as being nothing more than a superb melodrama organized around a charismatic, one-dimensional villain, but I now realize it is more complex than that.

Richard's deformity is not merely a physical sign of spiritual evil, but also a metaphor for the twisted era of internecine and intra-generational violence of which he himself is the inevitable conclusion. Richard claims that his disability disqualifies him for a peaceful age's love-making, but his effective wooing of Lady Anne--literally over her husband's dead body--belies this claim. No, Richard, who from infancy has known nothing but civil war and betrayal, can only be effective when he is either murdering his Plantagenet relatives or plotting to do so. (Thus, when he finally becomes king, he can neither enjoy the honor nor rise to the challenge, and therefore is soon plagued with nightmares and consigned to destruction.)

Richard fancies himself as the medieval Vice, commenting sardonically to the audience on the action he has devised, heedless of the fact that he is also part of a universal moral design. Richard, who embodies in concentrated form the worst deeds of his time, must be purged so that a new age can be established.

It is here that the women of the play become important, transforming it into Senecan if not Sophoclean tragedy. In periodic choruses, the queens Margaret, Elizabeth and Anne (plus the Duchess of York) mourn their children and others who have been snatched from them by civil war, and call down vengeance on Richard and other murderers. The interesting thing about this chorus, however, is that it is not composed of unified expressions of grief and vengeance, for the woman continually curse and blame each other, each proclaiming her own sorrow as somehow superior to that of the others. Ironically, the age's long history of crimes against mothers deprives even maternal grief of its unity.

I believe this is Shakespeare's first self-conscious attempt to create tragedy--in the classical sense--out of popular drama. The conception of the women's chorus--both a traditional tragic chorus and at the same time something more personal, more ironic--is particularly impressive in this regard. Unfortunately, however, Shakespeare overreached himself. In execution, the chorus of queens is often whiny and wearying, and slows down the action without illuminating it. Nevertheless, it is a great step toward the tragic resonances of the major plays. ...more
5

Feb 07, 2013

A hero, in his own mind or a historical villain? King Richard the Third , grew up in the turbulent years of the War of the Roses, 1455-1485, the English crown fought between the House of York, symbolized by the White Rose, and the House of Lancaster, the Red Rose, Sovereigns on the throne, vanish rapidly, ironically, two branches of the same Plantagenet family. Richard's brother Edward IV, at 6 foot four inches, the tallest British monarch in history, is dying, over indulgences, so much food and A hero, in his own mind or a historical villain? King Richard the Third , grew up in the turbulent years of the War of the Roses, 1455-1485, the English crown fought between the House of York, symbolized by the White Rose, and the House of Lancaster, the Red Rose, Sovereigns on the throne, vanish rapidly, ironically, two branches of the same Plantagenet family. Richard's brother Edward IV, at 6 foot four inches, the tallest British monarch in history, is dying, over indulgences, so much food and drink, the warrior king has become very fat, I mean obese. His two sons, Edward and Richard, are too young to rule, with the demise of their father, Uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, places the young , trusting princes, his nephews, in the legendary Tower of London, part castle and the other a prison, Queen Elizabeth, the mother, Edward the fourth's wife, flees to a sanctuary with her two remaining daughters. They the little princes, disappear without a trace from sight, a mystery that has never been solved. Wild rumors spread that they were executed, by the rather ambitious man. Through less than ethical maneuvering, ( treacherous, some say ) with the help of the greedy Duke of Buckingham , takes the throne, many rivals fall, Buckingham too, including even disloyal brother Clarence, the last one, he has, and the blood spills freely, but a new king is crowned, Richard 111, long live the king... Queen Anne dies, the new monarch's wife, he then wants to marry young Elizabeth, his brother Edward IV's, daughter... Uneasy lies the man on the throne, a new threat emerges from exile in France, the Earl of Richmond's navy, lands in England, his marching army sets off to challenge Richard, the Battle of Bosworth Field , will decide who becomes master of the unstable nation. But the eyes of the dead, will no longer see the beautiful blue skies above, the green grass under their feet, the sweet smelling roses, both white and red, growing on the land, the soothing sounds of water, as it goes over rocks, in a small brook, the singing of the happy birds, to each other, on a tree, the gentle winds touching the gentlemen's faces, the magic of the rainbow colors, after a refreshing rain, the warm Sun, drying the pastures ... The caressing and kisses , of loved ones, the untroubled, shouting children, playing outside ... riding a horse over a hill , looking at the gorgeous sunset, as it dips below the horizon, pets who are always glad to see you, without any reservations, the taste of newly baked bread, the wonder of the moon shining down, on them, as they walk under the rays, trying to guess, what it really is, the steep, powerful sea waves rushing the shore, bringing unknown objects and quickly going back... no the winners or losers, that can not rise again, will miss all these things.... as their lives ebb slowly, into nothingness ... ...more
5

Jun 02, 2008

Richard III = The Tragedy of King Richard the Third (Wars of the Roses #8), William Shakespeare
Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Richard III = The Tragedy of King Richard the Third (Wars of the Roses #8), William Shakespeare
Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Shakespeare's first tetralogy (also containing Henry VI parts 1–3). It is the second longest play in the canon after Hamlet, and is the longest of the First Folio, whose version of Hamlet is shorter than its Quarto counterpart. The play is often abridged; for example, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen, Margaret.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آوریل سال 2002 میلادی
عنوان: سوگنمایش شاه ریچارد سوم؛ سرایش: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ ویراسته: آنتونی هموند؛ مترجم: میر شمس الدین امیر سلطانی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1379، در 368 ش، شابک: 9640007048؛ چاپ دوم، 1389، شابک: 9789640007044؛ موضوع: نمایشنامه ریچارد سوم شاه انگلستان از 1452 تا 1485 - سده 16 م

ریچارد سوم: نمایش‌نامه‌ ای تاریخی اثر: «ویلیام شکسپیر» است، که داستان تراژیک به قدرت رسیدن شاه «ریچارد سوم»، و سقوط وی را به پرده می‌کشد. به روایت «شکسپیر»، ایشان مردی بدقیافه، گوژپشت، حیله‌ گر، خشن، و برادر پادشاه وقت، از دودمان «پلانتاجنت» است، که با خود عهد کرده، به هر قیمتی شده صاحب تاج و تخت شود. نمایش‌نامه «ریچارد سوم»، پُرشخصیت‌ترین نمایش، در میان نمایش‌نامه‌ های «شکسپیر» است، و ماجراهای آن در اواخر سده شانزدهم میلادی، براساس نحوه ی ظهور و سقوط شاه «ریچارد سوم»، نوشته شده است. در نمایش‌نامه، «ریچارد سوم» برای رسیدن به تاج و تخت، برادرزاده‌ های خود را، که ملقب به «شاهزاده‌ های برج» بودند، به قتل می‌رساند. این شاهزاده‌ ها، تنها پسران «ادوارد چهارم»، و در زمان مرگ پدرشان، نه، و دوازده ساله بودند؛ پس از «ریچارد سوم» خاندان «تودور»، به قدرت میرسند. ا. شربیانی ...more
3

Oct 01, 2015

Ah good old Dick III. Killing yer husbands, killing yer children. An all-round family guy.
5

Nov 15, 2019

Shakespeare wrote two titanic tetralogies at the start of his career, spanning through the dynasties of 15th-century kings of England, from Edward III down to Henry VII. The second half of this gigantic saga (Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3 + Richard III) has a general downward and inward movement.

Downward because it illustrates the collapse of a nation into political chaos. While Henry V was the apotheosis of a heroic king sent from heaven, all of Henry VI was a slow descent, and finally Richard Shakespeare wrote two titanic tetralogies at the start of his career, spanning through the dynasties of 15th-century kings of England, from Edward III down to Henry VII. The second half of this gigantic saga (Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3 + Richard III) has a general downward and inward movement.

Downward because it illustrates the collapse of a nation into political chaos. While Henry V was the apotheosis of a heroic king sent from heaven, all of Henry VI was a slow descent, and finally Richard III, the cursed king, last of the Plantagenets, is like a monster out of hell. In a way, it is urgent to re-read these plays today. They are like a cautionary tale, in a time when a general sense of lack of purpose and justice would have us agree to let an impostor with despotic ambitions access political power — the harm is in fact already being done.

Inward because it gradually shrinks down, from the width of two nations (England and France) under one king, down to one country (England alone), down again to two houses (Lancaster and Plantagenet), down still to one house (York), and now down to one single individual: Richard, the dog. As a result, while Henry V was an epic play spanning across Europe, Richard III feels like a constrained nightmare, an introspection into a deranged, sadistic mind. The periodic monologues addressed to the public actively contribute to this effect. The other characters are only there to be abused or killed. The people Richard rules over barely exists anymore, except for a couple of cutthroats and some gullible worthies. His kingdom even is worth less than a horse when his death draws near.

The tone in this play is quite different from the rest of Shakespeare’s “Histories”: very dark and with almost no comic relief throughout its four hours running time. Richard is evil in a fantastic, insane way. He is truly one of a kind, or as he says “I am myself alone” (HVI, V, 7, 83). From the beginning, cursed with a wretched body (a sort of “Hunchback of Westminster Abbey”), he vows to “prove a villain” (I, 1, 30) and become the king. There is only a dim spark of hope at the very end, the eve of the battle of Bosworth, when he meets the spectres of his victims, who urge him to “despair and die” (V, 3, 121 sqq.), and he finally admits “I fear, I fear” (V, 3, 215). Shakespeare’s tour de force in this play is to have probably one of the worst unredeemable supervillains in literary history be the protagonist of one of his longest — and possibly best — plays. So much for the convention to have a “likeable” hero. However, it is quite clear that Shakespeare’s Richard is a fabricated, excessive, almost mythical version of the eponymous king — possibly, by contrast, to show Henry Tudor (the grandfather of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare’s patroness) in the best possible light.

Never again did Shakespeare give the prominent role to such a shocking psychopath: Iago (Othello) and Edmund (King Lear) are supporting characters. Even Macbeth — for which Richard III is a sort of first draft — is, in a way more humane, sensible, torn inside by guilt and a sense of vanity. Richard is just a bloc of abyss. (Next to him, George R.R. Martin’s Joffrey Baratheon is just a punchable whippersnapper.)

Edit: Just watched the last part of The Hollow Crown TV series, which is an adaptation of Shakespeare's play. The reshaping of the text and plot is very cleverly done and brings more sense and clarity to the material. The film is also visually stunning. But the cast is what really stands out, especially Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays a particularly intense Richard. The four women, Judi Dench (Cecily), Sophie Okonedo (Margaret), Keeley Hawes (Elizabeth) and Phoebe Fox (Anne) are all amazing.

In a way, Al Pacino’s part in The Godfather or Kevin Spacey’s in House of Cards are distant descendents of Richard III. ...more
3

Feb 20, 2017

"A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Poor old Richard. I think you needed more than that horse to save your kingdom.. "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Poor old Richard. I think you needed more than that horse to save your kingdom….. ...more
4

Sep 05, 2016

4 out of 5 stars to William Shakespeare's famous play, Richard III, one of his "War of the Roses" tragedies produced in the 16th century in England. People have generally heard of this King, and know more about him than they realize, but he is not one of the more famously read plays in high school or college, falling behind the more popular comedies and tragedies of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and A Mid-Summer Night's Dream.

Why This Book
Although I read this play in 4 out of 5 stars to William Shakespeare's famous play, Richard III, one of his "War of the Roses" tragedies produced in the 16th century in England. People have generally heard of this King, and know more about him than they realize, but he is not one of the more famously read plays in high school or college, falling behind the more popular comedies and tragedies of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and A Mid-Summer Night's Dream.

Why This Book
Although I read this play in high school, I had a more in depth read in a Shakespeare course where we compared each play to a painting (of our choosing) and a TV or Film adaption (instructor choice). We watched the 1995 film version starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Robert Downey, Jr., a modern re-appropriation of the film using themes from the play and fairly current politics.



Overview of Story
Richard III wants to be king, but he's third in line behind his brothers. He's also angry over a physical deformity, carrying a rather huge chip on his shoulder. He goes on a small killing spree, then forces one of the widows into marrying him. He has his brother (the king) executed and makes it look like his other brother committed the crime. All that stands in his way are his 2 young nephews, and while Richard is ruling the country until his nephew is older, it's just not enough for him. He manipulates others into asking for him to become the permanent king, and then secretly locks the princes in a tower or kills them. The world may never know. Over a short period of time, he becomes mocked and disliked, as the people know he is a horrible man. When his wife is no longer valuable to him, he has her killed and attempts to marry the daughter of the former Queen (young enough to be his granddaughter supposedly), to strengthen his claim to the throne. The battle begins for the throne, and Richard has a dream he will die. The next day, he is killed by his rival, who then marries the daughter of the former Queen and becomes the new King.



Approach & Style
1. It's written in the late 16th century, so some of the language requires some interpretation.
2. It was a play, so not a typical book read with a specific point of view.
3. It's based on reality; most of the plot actually happened to the kings and queens of that time.



Strengths
Shakespeare knew how to write. His language was beautiful. His words created vibrant and memorable images. He included themes and motifs across the scenes. He took as much from reality as he could, interjecting only enough balance of humor to offend some, but not those who would imprison him.

The story is simply fantastic. So many things people talk about today come from Richard III, including a few lines from this play. "My Kingdom for a horse" is a very famous line. Most everyone who knows a thing or two about British kings and queens are familiar with the young boys imprisoned in the tower. And when Richard III's body was dug up in 2012 in a parking lot in Leicester, the world waited to find out if it was actually him or just some other skeleton. (It WAS him).



Brothers fighting brothers. Power-hungry man with either a hunchback, curled hand or limp leg -- many different versions / interpretations. It's a bloody story, but helps teach a lot of history to kids in school.



Open Questions & Concerns
For one thing, it's Shakespeare, so there's little wrong with it. But it's not for everyone. And not an easy read.



Questions and concerns are more about:

1. Did Shakespeare really write it, or was it a ghost writer?
2. Did Richard III really kill the boys, or did they die somehow else?
3. What was his deformity?
4. Was he really all that bad, or did Shakespeare mock him and for 450 years, we've all played a game of telephone. (If you don't know that one, email me)
5. Which TV or Film was the best adaption? You must see the one I noted above. It's brilliant. A masterpiece in acting, plot re-creation and scenery.



Final Thoughts
If you're going to read it, invest the time in reading all the plays tied together for the War of Roses. Get to know the characters, look up their realities, understand their relationships, and jump in with eyes wide open. Don't just read it because it sounds like a good story. There's more to it, and you won't enjoy the style of the play without having the affinity for 450 year old words and a love of British royalty.



About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. ...more
3

Dec 17, 2011

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

A powerful study of evil.

Richard, though, is made to be more complex than the medieval personification of Vice, more human and thus, more terrible.

No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”

A powerful study of evil.

Richard, though, is made to be more complex than the medieval personification of Vice, more human and thus, more terrible.

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.”

...more
5

Nov 10, 2013

I played Anne in my school's production of Richard III when I was 15. In the seduction scene from Act 1, the guy playing Richard, who was a complete asshole, decided to put his hand on my left breast somewhere towards the end. I turned round and punched him in the face, knocking out one of his teeth.

They had to end the play there and then and I got expelled, but it was worth it.
5

Aug 10, 2016

General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Michael Taylor
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

An Account of the Text
Genealogical Tables
Commentary
4

Feb 04, 2013



Here is an excellent and fun archaelogical story. They just found Richard III. He was under a municipal car park. People had been parking their Renault Clios and Ford Fiestas on top of him for years.
Now, we last saw Richard being killed in Shakespeare at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 :

SCENE V. Another part of the field.
Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD III and RICHMOND; they fight. KING RICHARD III is slain.

After that, allegedly, the body was dragged into Leicester (25 miles south of

Here is an excellent and fun archaelogical story. They just found Richard III. He was under a municipal car park. People had been parking their Renault Clios and Ford Fiestas on top of him for years.
Now, we last saw Richard being killed in Shakespeare at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 :

SCENE V. Another part of the field.
Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD III and RICHMOND; they fight. KING RICHARD III is slain.

After that, allegedly, the body was dragged into Leicester (25 miles south of Nottingham), hung up for the amusement of passers-by for a few days, then buried in the choir of Greyfriars Abbey. 51 years later, the abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII. Richard's grave vanished. No one gave a monkey's about it. They couldn't care less. People forgot where the Greyfriars Abbey even was. They mystery of the King's whereabouts remained – until today!

Enter stage left PHILIPPA LANGLEY, member of the Richard III Society and archaeologist at Leicester University.



She was the one who got a bee in her bonnet about it. She identified the car park as the area where the choir used to be. She did the convincing. Last August they started digging, this was all funded by the harmless cranks of the Richard III Society.




A couple of weeks later they had uncovered the foundations of the abbey and two human skeletons, one of which was complete. The skull showed a major head wound. The spine was crooked. There was an arrowhead in the spine.

DNA tests were done, radio carbon tests were done, and today they announced it's him.








Give me a bowl of wine:
I have not that alacrity of spirit,
Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have.

Act V scene ii.


...more
5

Mar 04, 2017

Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.
William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act IV.4



Shakespeare's first Masterpiece. I find it hard to not think of this as the beginning of Shakespeare's real reign. His characters are amazing. His images are haunting. His monologues are beautiful. Yes, certainly I still think his best is yet to come, but if he died only producing this, we would still sing his name for the next 1000 years. King Richard is a beast, “Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.”
― William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act IV.4



Shakespeare's first Masterpiece. I find it hard to not think of this as the beginning of Shakespeare's real reign. His characters are amazing. His images are haunting. His monologues are beautiful. Yes, certainly I still think his best is yet to come, but if he died only producing this, we would still sing his name for the next 1000 years. King Richard is a beast, but one you can't take your eyes off of. Many of Shakespeare's best characters are fools and murderers. I also think this is the play where William Shakespeare has grown up and thrown off many of this earlier, more childish crutches. Most of the action in this play takes place off stage. We are left transfixed not by swords and blood, but by sharper and scarier things -- words and mother's curses.

There were also several nice lines, specifically:

- “Now is the winter of our discontent.”
- “Dispute not with her: she is lunatic.”
- "All springs reduces their currents to mine eyes,
That I, being governed by the watery moon,
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the World."
- “So wise so young, they say, do never live long.”
- “Shine out fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
That I may see my shadow as I pass.”
- "Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head.
They smile at me who shortly shall be dead."
- "Be the attorney of my love to her:
Plead what I will be, not what I have been -"
- “I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.”

I could go on and on, for there are multitudes. ...more
3

Apr 04, 2016

I had to wait until the second-to-last page to hear him say "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
Not fair, Willy.

I will probably write something coherent sooner or later. For the time being, suffice it to say that it's clearly not a Hamlet.

The day after

I'm always like this. When I don't know what to write about something I read, I go all "Hey, girl, do not despair. You'll think of something. You have all this profound blabber inside your head and you just have to find a not too embarassing I had to wait until the second-to-last page to hear him say "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
Not fair, Willy.

I will probably write something coherent sooner or later. For the time being, suffice it to say that it's clearly not a Hamlet.

The day after

I'm always like this. When I don't know what to write about something I read, I go all "Hey, girl, do not despair. You'll think of something. You have all this profound blabber inside your head and you just have to find a not too embarassing way to put it down. You can do that."
Surprise surprise! Turns out I can't.

It's Shakespeare. Aestehtically speaking, when you read it aloud it tastes like your favorite food. Emotionally speaking, you itch to kick Richard in the gut, you want the Duchess, Margaret and Elizabeth to quit arguing about which of them is more entitled to cry their guts out (so you can kick them too -ew), you roll your eyes when Richmond comes up with that final celebratory speech of his.
It's Shakespeare. It's good.
It's just not the best.

"What do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by.
Richard loves Richard; that is, I and I."

PS. I already knew, but I was overjoyed nonetheless when I came across the lines "Now is the winter of our discontent" (it's the incipit; you can't miss it) and "Tomorrow in the battle think on me" (act V, scene 3), because those are the lines from which two authors I hold dear took the titles of two of their novels, which I recommend. So, people, please go read The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck God of Everything, and Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí ( Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me ) by Javier Marías. You can thank me later.

(And that's how Simona transformed her Richard III review in a new episode of "What You Should Read Next". Fabulous.) ...more
5

Mar 25, 2013

I'm nearly speechless.

I'm certain that most of my inability to form words is because I read so much history, even a few days ago, about the War of the Roses, and then, having plowed through Shakespeare's line of kings from Richard II through Richard III, having history be retold in oft-pleasing shape (inaccuracies aside), the whole shape of that history has built up into such a crescendo of howling misery in my mind that I can't except get horribly emotional about all the players in these plays. I'm nearly speechless.

I'm certain that most of my inability to form words is because I read so much history, even a few days ago, about the War of the Roses, and then, having plowed through Shakespeare's line of kings from Richard II through Richard III, having history be retold in oft-pleasing shape (inaccuracies aside), the whole shape of that history has built up into such a crescendo of howling misery in my mind that I can't except get horribly emotional about all the players in these plays.

I can't recommend total immersion enough. Truly. This is the only way to do the histories.

When I first read them, I missed so much because names and houses really didn't *mean* that much except where Shakespeare could draw them out warmly on the stage, and then when I first read Richard III I was just shocked by how damn evil and machiavellian he was, not because I really cared a whit about the people.

But now? After getting to know the history of the time AND even setting every play upon the next, giving me an unbroken line of successions, strifes, sources of woes, and, finally, a final scene of such resolution and utter endless horror, with Margaret laughing insanely atop a mountain of corpses?

Speechless. Absolutely and utterly speechless.

And I loved her from the start, too. I was amazed at how strong she became, how she took over the kingdom from her pansy husband, how warlike and valorous in battle in part 3, and then, the skulking prophetess of curses, curses, and curses in Richard III... just... WOW.

And I thought I was knocked flat on my back with Richard's performance and setup for his o'erweaning ambition and bloody nightmare that had become his "performance" in his titular play! Indeed, he was brilliant and amazing, too, but it is Margaret that brought me to tears.

I always knew that this one was one was one of the most beloved of Shakespeare's histories and so much quoted, too, but I wasn't blown away by it the first time I read it. I enjoyed it, yes, but I cannot stress just how completely amazing it is as a capstone to the War of the Roses.

Hell, those Henry the VI's that are somewhat or actually very weak in comparison, having been written before Shakespeare's powers of writing were really in full bloom, now feel as if they're required reading for me. Weak, yes, but so necessary for the full bloom of horror and tragedy that finally snuffs out the lines of both York and Lancaster.

One thing that readers might really enjoy is all the nearly-formed themes and ideas that become some of the most memorable features of so many of his other works, all put into the single basket of VI, not quite ripe yet, but sitting like a cutpurse at the crossroads. :) Anyone who loves Shakespeare really should do themselves the great justice of going through all the histories in a row. :)

I will never forget this. :)

Think about your favorite epic fantasy, all the effort you put into getting to know all the characters and their cares, and turn it into a long-drawn-out Hamlet-like affair, and weep. That's what this is, filled with poetry, brilliant conflict, and fearless manipulation of us dear readers. :) And that's just his weaker works...

Richard III is *not* a weak work. It is the knife in your back. :) ...more
5

Nov 15, 2015

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


Killing Frenzy: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Burton Raffel, Harold Bloom
 
 
A typical king;
Killed everybody who got in his way;
A typical fat slob of a king;
Out to get his own greedy needs met;
Uses every individual who crossed his path;
More often than not, slap happy drunk;
Seen on numerous occasion dancing amongst the moon lit paths;
Often times his royal trousers would fall to his ankles causing the King to fall face down.
 
Was If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


Killing Frenzy: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Burton Raffel, Harold Bloom
 
 
A typical king;
Killed everybody who got in his way;
A typical fat slob of a king;
Out to get his own greedy needs met;
Uses every individual who crossed his path;
More often than not, slap happy drunk;
Seen on numerous occasion dancing amongst the moon lit paths;
Often times his royal trousers would fall to his ankles causing the King to fall face down.
 
Was Shakespeare’s Richard any different from some of the politicians we all know so well?  The only difference is that they're not allowed to get away with it as much, what with the paparazzi and all.
 
I finished reading this, Richard III, prior to go see him in the theatre. Even in Portuguese I felt as if I’d come under a spell. What marvelous language. Everyone knows this. It’s obvious, but does everyone really know it? It’s different to know than to experience. And I’ve experienced, once again, the glory of his language in this story.
 
Read on elsewhere, if you feel so inclined. ...more
5

Apr 12, 2020

Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end

"Richard III" boasts one of Shakespeare's most gleeful and charismatic creations in the character of the deformed Duke of Gloucester. The greatest success of this long play is the interaction between the reader/viewer and the title character. Richard is a horrid human being, but we are reading or watching the play because we are entranced by him and his villainy. It is a sobering thought, one that should horrify us, but we can't help ourselves. We are drawn “Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end”

"Richard III" boasts one of Shakespeare's most gleeful and charismatic creations in the character of the deformed Duke of Gloucester. The greatest success of this long play is the interaction between the reader/viewer and the title character. Richard is a horrid human being, but we are reading or watching the play because we are entranced by him and his villainy. It is a sobering thought, one that should horrify us, but we can't help ourselves. We are drawn to the bastard! I imagine Shakespeare loved his version of Richard because he endows him with such gleeful wit and debauched enjoyment in creating pain for others, that you are seduced by this worst of human beings. It almost borders on melodrama, but it never quite sinks to that level. The role of Richard III is Shakespeare's second longest, after Hamlet, and yet Richard is very rarely dull. Reading Act III where he and his henchman the Duke of Buckingham manipulate other into supporting Richard's claim to the crown will bring a rueful smile to your face.
I also enjoy the trio of queens in the play: Margaret the Lancastrian widow of Henry VI (who Richard killed), the Duchess of York (Richard's mom), and his brother's widow Queen Elizabeth. All three hate Richard with an intense passion, and all have blistering scenes of rage towards Richard at various times in the text. Detracting from the play is that these scenes and curses do get redundant, but there is no denying the ferocity and bile Shakespeare gave these women, and in the hands of talented actresses they would be a joy to watch.
Many academics criticize "Richard III", for various reasons. I find most of them foolish. This play is not meant to be a historical recreation of the actual events (it isn't) nor is it some great lofty text. It is a glimpse into evil and ambition. Really it is just a more modern version of a morality play. Richard represents Vice and Ambition, and like most who let those traits govern their lives, he suffers the consequences.
The new RSC Modern Library editions of the plays of Shakespeare are a quality trade paperback edition of the works of the Bard. “Richard III” contains an Introduction by Jonathan Bate. It has a nice focus on Ricard as an influence on the work of Marlowe, and also as an actor, creating his own role.
This edition includes an essay on the performance history of the piece, and interviews with a director and designer as well as an interview with actor Simon Russell Beale who gives some awesome perspective and insight into the character of Richard.
The Modern Library edition also includes a scene-by-scene analysis, which can help point out an image or symbol you might have missed. The edition also includes a nice “Further Readings” list specifically for this play.
Frankly, all of the extra essays allow you to dive into the world of the play, and it is all included in one text.
The RSC Modern Library editions are a good addition to the editions of Shakespeare out there. ...more
4

Feb 28, 2017

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York,
And all the clouds that lowered upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.


Rating: 3 1/2 for reading, 4+ for seeing.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The lead. The future king Richard III.

He that hath here, in the first 41 lines of the play, surely the most revealing opening monologue in any of Shakespeares plays.

Further on, Richard declaims But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York,
And all the clouds that lowered upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.


Rating: 3 1/2 for reading, 4+ for seeing.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The lead. The future king Richard III.

He that hath here, in the first 41 lines of the play, surely the most revealing opening monologue in any of Shakespeare’s plays.

Further on, Richard declaims But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely an unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them –
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophesies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the King
In deadly hate the one against the other.
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up …

Richard one of the great stage villains

This monster, both physical and moral – a view of the future King Richard III (called Gloucester throughout the play) not invented by Shakespeare. But it was invented! And by whom?

By Sir Thomas More (1478 – 1535), known to Roman Catholics as Saint Thomas More, the English social philosopher, author, and noted Renaissance humanist, the writer of Utopia. More also worked on a History of Richard III for several years, which was published after his death. In this biography More set forth the idea that Richard was “a lame and twisted hunchback whose misshapen body reflects the evil heart within it”, as John Norwich (see Reviewer’s aside below) puts it. From More, it went to Richard Halle’s Chronicle, thence almost verbatim to Holinshed’s Chronicle - from there to Shakespeare, and thence to us, becoming the most enduring legend of any of the English Kings.

The earliest man to gain fame playing Richard was the great English actor Richard Burbage, the star actor of Shakespeare’s theater company. He played the part when the play was introduced at the Globe Theater. (Burbage also played the leads in Hamlet, Othello and King Lear.) Many other famous actors have played Richard – to name just a few, Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier, Vincent Price, George C. Scott, and … John Wilkes Booth.


Portrait of Richard Burbage, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London


I’m sure there are many ways of playing the part. I recently saw a production of Richard III put on by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, starring Vince Eisenson.



for the costume, see last section

As hinted in the photo above, Eisenson played Richard in such a way that he made him almost likeable, at least through much of the play. When Richard had asides, he would turn to the audience, smile, and speak as if he were letting us in on a secret – that he was both amused and amazed that he could blatantly lie to and mislead the other characters over and over, and they just never got it!


Can be a tough play to read

The introduction to the play in my edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works notes that to anyone “unfamiliar with an intricate period of English history, Richard III is difficult to follow in the reading”.

This is because (for anyone familiar with the history of the period) Shakespeare completely ignores the actual timeline. Of course he compresses events that took place at particular times in a multi-year saga. We must allow him that. But the details of this compression are enough to quite confuse a knowledgeable reader of the play.

Beyond this (not much of a problem for me, since I wasn’t much in the historic know) there’s the simple matter of keeping the characters straight, and remembering how they are aligned.


Knowing that Richard III was king of England for only a couple years, I assumed that there would be quite a bit of conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster. But not so. Only in the last act does Henry, Earl of Richmond, take the stage. At least he is there to announce, in the final scene, that as Henry VII, he will wed Elizabeth of York to bring the two Houses together. (This Elizabeth was the first child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, the latter the Queen Elizabeth of the play. (view spoiler)[


Elizabeth of York was in fact the daughter (of Edward IV), sister (of Edward V), niece (of Richard III), wife (of Henry VII), mother (of Henry VIII) and grandmother (of Edward VI) of six successive rulers of England. (hide spoiler)]

No, the conflict in the play only latterly comes down to the York/Lancaster war. Before that, it is a conflict embroiling different royal members of the House of York (much instigated by Gloucester – that is, Richard), and also between factions for and against Edward’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville. For Edward had married one of his subjects, a woman of surpassing beauty but not from the highest ranks of the English nobility. This was a source of contention throughout nobles and the House of York ever after.

In the play, the Woodville faction consists mainly of the brothers, relatives, and hangers-on of the Queen. All these are wont to capitalize on the good fortune thrown their way by Edward’s unseemly marriage to the Woodville beauty. Gloucester’s machinations take advantage of the enmity this engenders.

Reviewer. [Aside]

I got hold of two books when I started the histories: Shakespeare’s Kings by John Norwich (a popular historian), and Shakespeare’s English Kings by Peter Saccio, a professor of Shakespearean Studies and English, and “an accomplished actor and theatrical director”. I should someday do a syntopical review of these books. I find both these books useful, but don’t want to say anything more about them now, since I could easily mislead. [Exeunt.]

See it on the stage – or in a movie

The play has been more popular over the years on the stage than as a read, I think.

With a good production, with a good lead actor, it’s both easier to follow and more interesting.

But you will never see an uncut, unedited version on the stage. It’s Shakespeare’s 4th longest play, over 4000 lines. So it’s invariably edited, cutting scenes and parts of scenes to make a tighter, less rambling narrative.

Because of the nature of Richard, the arch-villain, it has also become popular to shift the play into different historic periods. The version I saw was set in the years around World War I. The costumes were from that era. Why was this done? Frankly, it wasn’t entirely clear, though one reason was to allow some singers to serenade the audience before the action began, and again at intermission, with songs associated with WW I that had been written and sung by a Baltimore native of that time.

The battle scene in Act V was also very exciting in the production, lasting several minutes, strobe lights, sounds of explosions, characters appearing and disappearing on the stage, combatants carrying rifles and wearing gas-masks (very spooky).

There have been several movies made of Richard III. A very popular one was produced in 1995, set in a fascist England early in the last century. Starring Ian McKellen, it was nominated for two Oscars.



The trailer on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXc0-...

Much of the movie can be viewed on YouTube, but whether it’s all there isn’t clear.

The 1955 British film starring Laurence Olivier is also recommended.


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Previous review: The God of Small Things
Random review: Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln
Next review: Animalia guess what it is, then check it out ...more
5

Sep 06, 2016

This. ARG! This play really made me FURIOUS!
*takes a deep breath*

First things first, the plot:
Edward IV is king, we learn from his brother Richard (called Gloucester for his dukedom) how he became king. Richard is described as an ugly hunchback and he vows to behave as is expected of him.

Next, he plots to have his brother George Clarence put away in the Tower of London (there is a prophecy here, actually quite a number of them, but this one says that Edward's heirs will be killed by "G" which This. ARG! This play really made me FURIOUS!
*takes a deep breath*

First things first, the plot:
Edward IV is king, we learn from his brother Richard (called Gloucester for his dukedom) how he became king. Richard is described as an ugly hunchback and he vows to behave as is expected of him.

Next, he plots to have his brother George Clarence put away in the Tower of London (there is a prophecy here, actually quite a number of them, but this one says that Edward's heirs will be killed by "G" which Edward thinks is George but which could also be Gloucester, meaning Richard) because he is next in the line of succession after Edward.
Richard manages to get George imprisoned but here is where Shakespeare once again gets VERY inaccurate. George was imprisoned and eventuelly executed on Edward's orders for high treason (he was apparently not a very nice person, not even to his own wife who died in childbed 2 years before George was executed in a casket of his favourite wine, but he also defected several times and even when not siding with a faction plotted against Edward). Here in the play however it is a clever ploy by Richard that gets George into the Tower and then he sends assassins (who take one looong time before they finally do the deed).
In the meantime, Richard woos Anne, Warwick's other daughter (keeping from her the fact that he killed both her husband and father and just sent assassins to kill her brother-in-law). In reality, the marriage was arranged by Edward and apparently Richard and Anne were happy although the sickness and eventual death of their only child, a son, changed the couple (only natural, I'd say).
The court we see is as awful as ever, the backstabbing merrily continuing.
Enter Margaret of Anjou, still alive, returning against her banishment (again, historically NOT correct) to curse basically everyone she can spit at. I really felt for her. All the things this woman endured and still she fought, never giving up. She was so STRONG. And Shakespeare must have liked her a great deal too considering how he portrayed her. I said in my review of the previous play that I shuddered when she seemingly had her victory over Richard of York (King Edward IV's father). But this play made her even more spooky! Far, far more spooky (with a slight supernatural element)! That insane laughter from the mountain of corpses (if only I had known how accurate I'd be with my saying "having her final laugh" in my earlier review) ... *shivers*
When King Edward hears of his brother's death in the Tower, his already dwindling health is gone for good and he dies (again, not true, but a nice touch).

Thus, his son, Edward V becomes king but is intercepted on his way to the coronation by Richard. He persuades Edward and his younger brother to stay at the Tower for some time but it is quite clear that all of Richards puns and schemes will not work with these two boys. They are clever (although cruel when making jokes about their uncle) and thus an actual threat to him.
Nevertheless, he starts a campaign that names him King Richard III while the boys are kept in the Tower. All opposition is killed one way or another by Richard until he also orders the murder of the two boys.
This sparks outrage and a new rebellion.

Richard meanwhile sets his eyes on his niece Elizabeth (the oldest daughter of Edward) and therefore poisons his wife (having already said earlier in the play that he will dispose of her once she has served her purpose). The former queen (Elizabeth's mother) however is not stupid either and plays for time. She also sides with Margaret of Anjou of all people to curse some more.
Richard gets more and more paranoid culminating in a great scene in which he dreams to be haunted by all his victims who tell him to die, making him realize that he has no allies whatsoever.

The rebellion arrives in England, headed by Richmond (who is Henry Tudor). We get to see the Battle of Bosworth, the famous end of Richard, where he is (historically probably inaccurate) killed in hand-to-hand combat by the future king. This is where the famous cry "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" comes from.
Richmond becomes King Henry VII and marries Elizabeth of York to unite the Houses of Lancaster and York, forming the Tudor dynasty (giving him legitimacy).

So much for the plot. Now for what enraged me so much:
Richard must have been a pretty ruthless character but not more ruthless than other men of his time. He was also not known as a scheming hunchback but as a very good general and able fighter, never feeling too high-born to get his own hands dirty but rather fighting alongside his men. Plus, he was loyal to his brother Edward (helping him against various plots from George). There are A LOT of rumours as to what happened to those boys in the Tower and why Richard had himself named king instead of simply Protector of the Realm but it is disputed that the boys were killed on Richard's orders for several reasons.
The fact that Shakespeare, from the get-go, suddenly portrays him as a hunchback (physically disabled people were associated with the Devil at the time so the true-life Henry VII had paintings repainted to make Richard appear a hunchback) and made him be sly and use poison (a coward's or woman's practice) just didn't sit right with me (just like the way his corpse was paraded around after the actual Battle of Bosworth - they stripped him naked, put a sword up his butt and paraded him around for humiliation).

Yes, this play is written fantastically and it is thrilling and has a superb villain but I feel for the historical figure now that I've read quite a number of non-fiction stuff about that time.

Interesting is the supernatural element Shakespeare implements here. Many people rightfully say this was the beginning of Shakespeare becoming a master and having so many great ideas for characters and plot lines that we get to enjoy in numerous plays later.
I think the reason this play is so underrated (I've heard quite a number of times that it is supposedly not very good) is that of all the histories it is the most inaccurate and not just as propaganda for the Tudor queen under whose reign he lived but simply for sensationalism's sake.
And I agree: that is bad.
Nevertheless, for what it is, I have to give this play full 5 stars because all characters portrayed were fantastic in their roles (although not historically accurate) and I was sitting at the edge of my seat so to speak. ...more
5

Oct 11, 2016

One day I may find the time and the energy to prepare some well thought out, elegantly composed, insightful and informative reviews of Shakespeares greatest plays affording them with at least a modicum of the respect that they justly deserve. In the meantime I am offering a few very quickly thought through ideas on what are undoubtedly the greatest (English language) literary works for the stage ever written.

The majority of Shakespeares 37 or 38 plays (depending on who you ask) are imbued with One day I may find the time and the energy to prepare some well thought out, elegantly composed, insightful and informative reviews of Shakespeare’s greatest plays – affording them with at least a modicum of the respect that they justly deserve. In the meantime – I am offering a few very quickly thought through ideas on what are undoubtedly the greatest (English language) literary works for the stage ever written.

The majority of Shakespeare’s 37 or 38 plays (depending on who you ask) are imbued with brilliance, but if asked to select the greatest, I would proffer the following:

Hamlet
King Lear
Richard III
Macbeth
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Merchant of Venice

These are plays that are all transcendent in their brilliance – and should be seen by all. I stress the word ‘seen’ as although these plays are widely read, studied, analysed and pored over - ultimately all works for the stage are not written to be read, but to be performed and watched and enjoyed.

So why are these plays great?
All human thought is here; everything concerning the nuances of the human condition in all its majestic glory and awful hideousness is captured, expressed and delineated here. Shakespeare runs the gamut from love to hate, from life to death and absolutely everything else in between – revenge, jealousy, avariciousness, ambition, vanity, mercy, passion, lust, deceit, humour, gluttony, pride, sorrow, despair, wrath, sloth, vainglory, religion, superstition, bravery and cowardice…to name but a few – and he does it with such clarity, such power, such poetry, such perfection.

When ‘taught’ or rather ‘force-fed’ Shakespeare at school, I understood little and enjoyed even less. To give one small example – the purpose and effect of the iambic pentameter only becomes clear in performance and when performed well, as opposed to being read badly and taught tediously in the clinical confines of the English literature classroom. To enjoy and to be propelled by the rhythm and poetry of Shakespeare, one does not need to even be aware of the concept of the iambic pentameter. Neither does the learning and reciting of oft quoted (and misquoted) stock Shakespearian lines serve any real purpose – other than as a memory test. Whilst this is I’m sure not everyone’s experience of Shakespeare at school, but for me it certainly had the result of completely alienating me from, not only Shakespeare, but from any classical literature / drama whatsoever.

It was only when I found myself at the age of 18 and unaccountably in the theatre at Stratford upon Avon, watching the RSC brilliantly perform ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ – where I was utterly absorbed and transported to I knew not where, that my outlook was utterly transformed. Since then (and it has taken me around 30 years) I have now finally watched all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays – some as many as a dozen or more times.

The utter perfection of a play such as ‘Hamlet’ means that it can be seen endless times in endless ways and can be so very different dependent on the direction, the actors, the interpretation – and yet still remain faithful to the original brilliant play that Shakespeare wrote. There is quite simply just so much life in all of Shakespeare’s plays – as timeless and relevant today as they were when first written so very long ago.

Shakespeare holds up a mirror to our very existence and challenges us to look, to see, to feel, to hear, to think, to enjoy, to be transported, to be part of something, to laugh, to cry, to be excited, to be invigorated, to wonder…

To anyone who has had a similarly discouraging and alienating experience of Shakespeare’s written word – don’t give up, try again, go and watch a live performance if you possibly can do.

Quite simply:
These plays are towering poetic works of truly unassailable and staggering artistic and literary genius. ...more
4

Nov 11, 2016

This is a second reading of the play for me. It paints King Richard III of England (1452-1485) as the greatest villain of all literature, a sociopathic monster willing to do anything to achieve his desire for power. During the recent US presidential campaign, there have been several articles comparing Richard III to Donald Trump. Time will tell.

And speaking of time, I've just finished reading Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, which is a crime story that investigates the alleged crimes of This is a second reading of the play for me. It paints King Richard III of England (1452-1485) as the greatest villain of all literature, a sociopathic monster willing to do anything to achieve his desire for power. During the recent US presidential campaign, there have been several articles comparing Richard III to Donald Trump. Time will tell.

And speaking of time, I've just finished reading Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, which is a crime story that investigates the alleged crimes of King Richard III and which sparked my interest in revisiting Shakespeare's play. Tey's book points out that the play was written while Elizabeth I was on the throne and helped give legitimacy to her reign, establishing her grandfather Henry VIII's right to the crown. History is written by the winners, after all.

But putting all these musings aside, Shakespeare's play remains a fascinating look at ruthless sociopathic behavior. ...more
5

Feb 19, 2009

Richard is ugly, and the girls aren't interested. This really sours his attitude. He decides to plunge the country into another ruinous civil war; that'll show the bitches.

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing Richard is ugly, and the girls aren't interested. This really sours his attitude. He decides to plunge the country into another ruinous civil war; that'll show the bitches.

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other

Interestingly, once Richard has gained some serious political clout, he becomes a lot more attractive. Anne is fascinated, despite the fact that she has publicly cursed him and any woman stupid enough to fall for him. She ends up marrying the person she hates most in the whole world, and, as she bitterly says, her own curse is turned against her.

It would be nice to think Shakespeare was making it all up. In Fischer's Nazi Germany, I read that, as far as historians know, Hitler had sexual relationships with seven women during the course of his life. Every single one of them either committed suicide, or unsuccessfully tried to do so. Hitler wasn't exactly a looker either, though, as Diana Mosley never tired of pointing out, he was a very charming man.


...more
4

Feb 24, 2019

I usually stay away from English Renaissance drama altogether, because the language alone is killing me (don't laugh, how do you fare at 400+ year old versions of your fourth language?). Yesterday, I came across the Schaubühne stage production of Richard III. though, directed by Thomas Ostermeier and starring Lars Eidinger - holy sh**!!! This was so insanely fascinating and powerful (proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEt4z...) that I actually picked up the original English text, and you I usually stay away from English Renaissance drama altogether, because the language alone is killing me (don't laugh, how do you fare at 400+ year old versions of your fourth language?). Yesterday, I came across the Schaubühne stage production of Richard III. though, directed by Thomas Ostermeier and starring Lars Eidinger - holy sh**!!! This was so insanely fascinating and powerful (proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEt4z...) that I actually picked up the original English text, and you have to give it to good old Billy that he invented a brilliant villain - and this is an invention, because the play is not historically accurate - and had a couple of smart things to say about the nature of power.

Richard, a physically disabled Duke, grew up knowing nothing but war, and sure acts as if he read his Machiavelli and Nietzsche (the latter is impossible, of course). Fighting the odds of social darwinism (also not yet a thing back then - not too shabby, Billy!), he plots and kills his way to the top, always smartly using the ambition of others to serve his own goals. There are no inherently good characters in this play, there is no hero who steps up for moral virtues when the physically handicapped Richard sublimates his feelings of inferiority into a ruthless quest for power for power's sake. The women generally look pretty bad here, especially Anne who falls for the guy who killed her husband and father - this scene is particularly enigmatic, and in Ostermeier's stage version, it becomes particularly haunting and impressive.

So is Richard III. the devil? Such banality would of course be beneath Shakespeare, he does not allow his audience to distance themselves that easily from human evil:

"And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends, stol’n forth of Holy Writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil."

He plays the devil, he is a plotter among plotters, a schemer among schemers, an actor in a play called "The King's Court" -he succeeds not because of his high character or noble aim, but because he's better at this power game than the others. This is a truly fascinating play. ...more
3

Jul 26, 2018

Oh, Richard, what am I to do with you? Richard III is one of Shakespeares earliest plays which means that Willie wasnt the Bard yet. Its also one of his longest plays. I honestly couldnt imagine sitting through a stage adaptation of it, unless there were five bathroom breaks. And its also one of the histories and boy let me tell you, I really dont like the histories. [Even though Im reconsidering their value because Im enjoying Henry IV immensely at the moment.] So Richard and me were off to a Oh, Richard, what am I to do with you? Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays which means that Willie wasn’t the Bard yet. It’s also one of his longest plays. I honestly couldn’t imagine sitting through a stage adaptation of it, unless there were five bathroom breaks. And it’s also one of the histories and boy let me tell you, I really don’t like the histories. [Even though I’m reconsidering their value because I’m enjoying Henry IV immensely at the moment.] So Richard and me were off to a rough start. I started this play at the end of May and abandoned it after merely two scenes because I couldn’t be bothered. I don’t know which muse kissed me last week but not only did I manage to finish the play within two days, I also somewhat enjoyed it, like what?

I mean Richard (the character that is, note the missing italics) was absolutely insufferable but at least his body count was over 11 people at the end of the play? Ya’ll know I love a good stabbing.

Richard is quite the tragic character. He’s a hunchback and considers himself “deformed, unfinished” and “ugly”. He is sure that he’ll never find love and that he must play the part of the villain. This goes to show that Shakespeare played into the stigma that links villainy and deformity. It’s a plot device I absolutely condemn but luckily, Richard’s deformity doesn’t play a huge role; it’s only mentioned in the first scene to set up his character and motivation (which is bad enough but at least its no reoccurring theme). The main reason for his misery, however, is the fact that his brother Edward is sitting on the throne and not him. All of his scheming (like making Edward suspicious of their younger brother Clarence or him wooing Lady Anne) is designed to get Edward and everyone in line of succession out of the way, so that “the world would be left for him to bustle in.”

At first, I thought that Richard III would be a very complex and complicated play but as soon as I realised it’s basically just Richard killing people and hiring assassins, I was on board. Your younger brother is bothering you? Just let him rot in the Tower of London and then pay some murderers to get rid of him. Your nephew, the rightful heir to Edward, has a better claim to the throne than you? Let’s sent him to the Tower as well, I mean, it worked so well the first time around. Hasting starts doubting you? Arrest his ass. Buckingham leaves you for good after supporting all of your previous shady decisions? Get him killed. Wife getting on your nerves? Some head/neck separation will surely help. Richard literally doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything, and it’s quite fascinating to witness.

Despite the fact that Richard III is designed as a tragedy I couldn’t help but find much humor in it. Everyone was just so melodramatic, it was hilarious to witness. Richard courting Lady Anne is one of my absolute favorite scenes of this play because it encapsulates a level of ridiculousness that I am here for. You must note, that previous to their encounter Richard had murdered her husband which is why Anne, understandably, hates his guts. Their back and forth is awesome because both are super sassy and somewhat flirtatious (“Some dungeon.” – “Your bedchamber.” Shakespeare really always comes through with his fuckboys), at one point she actually spits at him and he lays his chest bare, shoves a sword into her hands and orders her to kill him if she hates him so much. I can’t make that shit up. Both of them need to seriously calm the fuck down, naturally, I was having the time of my life. And of course, Anne then agrees to marry the murderer of her husband. Even Richard notes that it’s hella weird that she already forgave him for stabbing her husband a mere three months ago. Willie, what’s good?

Margaret is a character I actually look forward to learning more about as I know that she appears in the Henry VI’s as well as she was the former King’s wife. I love how she just cursed the shit out of everyone because she was literally done with their bs. It’s also hella hypocritical that the male characters in this play then proceed on calling her “lunatic” and “crazy”, meanwhile Richard is literally out there stabbing people for fun.

Nonetheless, Richard III is a pretty epic play. I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare’s histories as I am just not interested in wars, battles, lords and their schemings, but even I cannot deny that certain lines, scenes and intrigues were perfectly set up. Queen Elizabeth bemoaning the decline of her house and how “the tiger how has seized the gentle hind”, Richard and Buckingham tricking the people into believing that Richard is humble and a perfectly sweet King, Hastings unknowingly marching to his own execution, the Duchess of York lamenting that she could have prevented the hellhound that has become her son “by strangling thee in her accused womb”, Queen Elizabeth fearing for the life of her daughter once Richard is done with her.

Shakespeare really manages to create an atmosphere in which you totally believe that Richard is 100% mad and willing to burn the whole fucking house down, even if it means that by the end of it he will be ruling over a graveyard. And talking of the dead, all of the people that Richard murdered returning to him as ghosts before his most important battle was my aesthetic. That scene was so well written and made me go YAAAAAS. I love the fact that all the people that Richard betrayed finally came for his ass. And the play also includes the famous “A horse! A horse! A horse for my kingdom!”-line, so that’s fun!

I’m also quite satisfied with the ending; it makes me happy that Richmond (later Henry VII) and Elizabeth finally “unite the white rose and the red” and bring peace to the kingdom… not sure how long that’ll last though. It’s interesting that Richmond was the first monarch of the House of Tudor; over were the days of the House of York. Can’t say I’m sad about that, ya’ll were some wack ass rulers.

So overall, I still think that the play could’ve been shorter and I would’ve loved for its female characters to be stronger and have more agency, but all in all, I’m still impressed by how much I liked this tragedy/history/did-Willie-even-know-what-he-was-doing-by-this-point?-thingy. ...more
4

Jun 12, 2018

Like many of Shakespeares early plays, Richard III is mostly full of flat characters, with just one or two that bear the bards characteristic stamp. Unlike Two Gentlemen of Verona or King John, however, this plays most interesting character is mercifully at the center of the action: Richard III.

If Richard III had a great hankering for immortal fame, he could hardly have done better than to pull the double stunt of getting his body lost (later to be found under a parking lot) and being the Like many of Shakespeare’s early plays, Richard III is mostly full of flat characters, with just one or two that bear the bard’s characteristic stamp. Unlike Two Gentlemen of Verona or King John, however, this play’s most interesting character is mercifully at the center of the action: Richard III.

If Richard III had a great hankering for immortal fame, he could hardly have done better than to pull the double stunt of getting his body lost (later to be found under a parking lot) and being the subject of one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays. Shakespeare’s Richard is a villain but an irresistible one. Though not so brilliantly calculating as Iago or Edmund, he nevertheless succeeds in making the audience into co-conspirators, reveling in his success even as we are shocked by his Machiavellian tactics. It helps that the other characters are not particularly admirable—indeed, most are just as ruthless when they get the chance, or otherwise prove quite unwilling to stick to their principles once tempted by Richard’s persuasive tongue.

The play is normally performed with some cuts, and for good reason. Uncut, it is second only to Hamlet in length but far behind in quality. I saw an uncut version produced by the BBC, which was enlivened by Ron Cook’s excellent performance in the titular role, but which dragged nevertheless. In particular, the women’s roles are terrible: nothing but declamation and lamentation, in a stiff, artificial, oratorical style that make one either want to laugh or sleep, but never weep. There are, of course, some very fine Shakespearean lines scattered throughout the play. But the poetic highlight is no doubt the dream related by Clarence before his untimely death, which manages to symbolize the whole play in fantastical imagery.

In short, a flawed, overlong, but ultimately an excellent play. ...more

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