'Richard II' is one of Shakespeare's most poetic plays, not least because of John of Gaunt's 'This England' speech (which was seen in part one of this production). From the 1960 BBC series 'An Age of Kings', transmitted live and featuring a host of well-known faces at the start of their careers (you can spot Frank Windsor, Julian Glover, and others), this production of Richard II is excellent.
Studio-bound it may be, but the quality of the acting and the writing makes it essential viewing - perhaps even more successful than the later version within the 1970s-80s BBC Shakespeare series. David William, who as Richard was petulant, arrogant, and proud in part one, becomes a figure of pity as this second instalment deals with his downfall and deposition. The scene where he and Tom Fleming as Bolingbroke vie for the crown of England is compelling and very well performed, and his scenes where Richard knows his cause is lost make you feel all the more sorry for the trouble he has brought on himself.
A fascinating survivor of the early years of television drama, 'An Age of Kings' has stood up to time very well, and if this play is anything to go by, is an excellent dramatisation of the History play cycle.
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