Regime change is a familiar idea to us today. We have got used to seeing legitimate rulers being deposed, even executed, to be replaced by others, supposedly better. It was the same in Shakespeare’s day – which is what makes this politically-charged play so relevant to us.
Richard II begins the story, told in Shakespeare’s eight great history plays, of a century of power struggles. It shows the conflict between Richard, the legitimate but autocratic King of England, and his usurping cousin Bolingbroke, later Henry IV – with more than a hint of further disasters to come.
This theme is both universal and contemporary, so the Hampstead Players’ production is a ‘timeless’ one, bridging the gap between the 16th century and our own.
But it is still Shakespeare. It does justice to the politics and drama – emphasised by Andrew Hurrell’s specially-written music – and also to the pathos, and even humour, of an intensely human story.
Above all, it recognises the poetry of the play – one of only four which Shakespeare wrote entirely in verse. And such poetry!
We were not born to sue, but to command.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptr’d isle,! This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars…
O call back yesterday; bid time return…
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.
The beautiful, complex spaces of Hampstead Parish Church are different from a traditional theatre. They provide the ideal setting for a play of movement and action. The Hampstead Players’ cast of 20, playing 40 parts between them, make this a special experience.
Thursday 9th July at 7.30pm
Friday 10th July at 7.30pm
Saturday 11th July at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Hampstead Parish Church, Church Row, London NW3 6UU