Richard II : Act 4

PLOT UPDATE: Richard returns from Ireland to confront Bolingbroke, but he is too late. All his supporters have deserted him in his absence, and he is soon trapped by Bolingbroke's army. Bereft of choices, Richard surrenders himself into his cousin's custody. 

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Important Points: 

  1. The entirely of Act 4 is taken up with a single scene, often called the "Deposition Scene". It is a masterful piece of writing, rife with political and personal drama.
  2. Having said that, it is important to note that Act 4 starts off with everybody yelling at everybody else while throwing their gloves on the floor. This bit is often cut, which is a pity, because it's hysterical

Important Points: 

  1. The Bishop of Carlisle's speech is pretty spine-tingling, with its dire prediction of future civil war that everybody watching the play knows is going to come true. 
  2. The "aye, no, no, aye" line is hardly the most spectacular poetry in Richard II, but I find it fascinating because of the numerous ways it can be interpreted. Both "aye" and "no" have plenty of homonyms that you can mix and match. David William is the only one who explicitly breaks the subsequent "nothing" out into "no thing", but it's an interesting choice. 

0:00 - An Age of Kings, 1960, Tom Fleming & David William
0:29 - BBC Shakespeare, 1978, Jon Finch & Derek Jacobi
1:05 - The Hollow Crown, 2012, Rory Kinnear & Ben Wishaw
1:33 - Royal Shakespeare Company, 2013, Nigel Lindsay & David Tennant

Important Points:

  1. Richard is being melodramatic again! Witness his "reverse coronation" sequence and then the very theatrical business with the mirror. Honestly, he should have been an actor, not a king. 
  2. Bolingbroke (now King Henry IV) isn't king for more than five minutes before people start plotting to overthrow him. This sets the tone for the rest of his reign (as we shall see in both parts of Henry IV).