• Playgoers may be wondering why, out of all of Shakespeare’s works, Richard II has captured the imaginations of two theatre companies on both sides of the Atlantic (at the same time). 

    • In New York, it’s difficult to watch the play without thinking of contemporary American politics.

    • The Pearl Theatre Company, which is producing Richard II at New York City Center Stage II, presents work with political reverberations, as need be (if you aren’t already convinced that putting on a play isn’t a political act in itself). A case in point would be Ibsen’s Rosmersholm, whose director Elinor Renfield saw a parallel between partisan sniping in Norway in the 1880s and our own ideological wars in the U.S. in 2010. In Richard II, director J. R. Sullivan works more stealthily: you’ll either see the play as a cautionary tale for the 2012 election or you won’t.  You’ll either see Richard as a stand-in for the 1% or you won’t.  You won’t think that it’s reflecting nothing back. 

    • Richard II ends, of course, the way it begins with a king pretending that he doesn’t have any blood on his hands

    • May Shakespeare be wrong in only predicting more politics as usual.

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