Thursday, April 9, 2015

King John - An Afterward

Graham Abbey as Phillip the Bastard
Rebecca chatted with me this afternoon, saying she spent some time last night studying the Coles Notes of King John, and then she sketched out for me, who the characters were and how they were related to one another.  This is a play where a person needs to arrive at the theatre with a geneaology chart in hand.

I would have been lost without all of the work she had done.

What kept my interest is that the King John of this play is the King John of the Magna Cartra and the King John of Robin Hood fame, even if he appears in the wrong century in that folk tale.

She helped me out by reminding me that at the time of this play, England owned some or France.  And further, the fact that the Pope and King John were fighting and that the rights of the church had been withdrawn for all of the English parrisonners had become a political problem.

What is a tragedy without a poisoning, a good sword fight, some evil intrigue and family life gone wrong.  This play had it all.

An obscure play?


But a good way to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

For the sake of Duncan and Alex who were on tap to see the play tonight, I will try to do some of my top picks of the evening.

1. I thought the delivery of the lines was beautiful.  So clear and articulate.
2. The pitch, pace and pause of the body language -- letting the audience really get the jokes.
3. Audience interaction? Phillip the Bastard having an audience member hold the decapitated head of someone who had been killed off stage.  I would not have wanted to be assigned that seat for the play.  And those bleacher seats at Stratford didn't look as comfortable as the uphostered seats in our theatre.
4. How did you like the lines,  "Thou weare a Lyons hide, doff it for shame / And hang a calves skin on those recreant limbs"?
5. The drumming seemed so Shakespearian, as did the singing.  And what a high tenor voice on one of the men!  That was a surprise lyric.



  1. Duncan said "it sucked way less than i thought it would". :-) actually, we were all laughing out loud in the theatre. It was WAY funnier than I expected it to be!

  2. The text made enough of the lion head cloak / calf-skin cloak that I went to the internet for I wanted to know more. I found out that the calf skin cloak is usually worn by the fool or the jester and is buttoned down their backs, not thrown over the shoulder as we saw. I like the Shakespearian taunting that went on about the costuming.

    And this morning I woke up thinking about waving the huge flags -- that was probably the equivalent of the establishing shot in today's film work.

    And how about that huge flowing cape that belonged to King John. When he got moving and it was filled with air, it was commanding.

    And I am pretty sure I know one place that Duncan laughed. More than one place, really, for every time the King was laughing and then had to control the laughter before he could speak? That was clever. Didn't the thought go through your head, Duncan, "Oh, I wish I could act like that! The antics I could pull off!"