Richard II 1595


A watershed in so many ways, Richard II is unquestionably controversial with its deposition scene and its use by the Earl of Essex as a curain raiser to his rebellion. Written entirely in verse, it does not resemble the preceding historical play, Richard III with its reflective musings, philosphy of kingship and acute personal tragedy. There's a tremendous performance starring  Ben Whishaw available on DVD from the BBC as part of its Hollow Crown series made in 2012. Unusual for the presence of sympathetic, politically alert commoners, like The Gardener, said to have been played by Will himself. Not the sort of thing you'd catch an Earl doing.

First official record: version of the play entered into the Stationers' Register on 29 August 1597
First published: version of the play published in quarto in 1597 as The Tragedie of King Richard the second. 1623 Folio text appeared under the title The life and death of King Richard the Second
First recorded performance: possible performance on 9 December 1595 at Sir Edward Hoby's house in Canon Row, watched by Sir Robert Cecil; earliest definite recorded performance at the Globe Theatre on 7 February 7, 1601.
Full text of play