Ah, so another month ends, and with it, so goes Richard the Second.
How do I feel about this play?
Well, I kinda feel about Richard the Second the same way I feel about baseball.
yes, I know I’ve said in the past that I’d rather have a root canal performed through my ass by a blind man wearing boxing gloves before I’d so see another baseball game, but it’s not quite that bad here…
Theoretically, I really like this play. I love the differences between Richard and Bolingbroke. I like the fact that we never get an insight into either man’s thoughts (until just before Richard’s death in his case; at no time for Bolingbroke).
I like the subtle shift of scansion in the two characters over the course of the play: at the beginning, Richard is mostly iambic, Bolingbroke filled with spondees and trochees; after the usurpation, Bolingbroke becomes more regular, Richard awkwardly stressed (though in his soliloquy he returns to regular blank verse… a sign of Richard’s true kingship?).
I love the foreshadowing of Prince Hal (though we never meet him), and the introduction of Hotspur.
I love the fact that while Richard seems weak and effeminate through much of the play, Shakespeare goes out of his way to describe his killing of two of the murderers who have come to assassinate him. And I love the absolute enigma Bolingbroke is.
On the page, I find it all fascinating.
On the stage, however, it just doesn’t seem very stirring to me.
I’d put this just above average in the Canon overall, enjoyment-wise, and near the top of the histories. In theory and in practice, it’s more anticipatory for me than in the moment… and that gives me great hope for next month, and…
The First Part of Henry the Fourth.