An Age Of Kings – Episode Two – The Deposing of a King (Richard II)

Richard is murdered by Exton (Robert Lang)
Richard is murdered by Exton (Robert Lang)

The Deposing of a King concludes the story of Richard II, begun in The Hollow Crown.  It quickly becomes apparent to Richard (David William) that Bolingbroke (Tom Fleming) holds such a strong position of power that he has no other course of action than to stand aside and offer the crown to him.  This is very much David William’s episode – he has the majority of the speeches and he’s very impressive as he divests himself of the duties of Kingship.

Early on, he muses about his fate –

What must the king do now? must he submit?
The king shall do it: must he be deposed?
The king shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? o’ God’s name, let it go:
I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer’s walking staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints
And my large kingdom for a little grave

His best moments though, come in Act V Scene 5.  Richard is incarcerated in Pomfret Castle and considers his death, which he knows will shortly come.  Here, the limitations of live performance are used to the series’ benefit, as the whole scene (lasting over nine minutes) which encompasses his speech, a discussion with a friendly groom (Julian Glover) and his murder are played out with just a single camera.

Elsewhere, Frank Windsor, who impressed in The Hollow Crown, has another good scene here, as he defends Richard against Bolingbroke and the rest of the nobles.  Another small, but telling performance, comes from Gordon Gostelow as the gardener who breaks the news to the Queen that Bolingbroke has seized power.

Next Up – Episode Three – Rebellion From The North.

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