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"Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back
When gold and silver becks me to come on."
     The Bastard Act III scene iii

"Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form."
     Constance Act III scene iv

"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,...
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
     Salisbury Act IV scene ii

"... now my soul hath elbow-room."
     King John Act V scene vii

"This England never did nor never shall
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror...
...Naught shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true."
     The Bastard Act V scene vii


(KING JOHN was performed in repertory with RICHARD II)

KING JOHN is a remarkable play with some of Shakespeare's most dazzling characters, foremost of which is Philip Faulconbridge, later re-named at his knighting Sir Richard Plantegenet, known in the brutal simplicity of the time as The Bastard. He is the natural son of England's greatest hero of the Middle Ages, Richard the Lionhearted, King John's dead brother. The Bastard is adopted into the royal circle by the King's formidable mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (known to modern audiences from The Lion in Winter). The Bastard is an astonishing invention, and, as Harold Bloom observed, "with Faulconbridge the Bastard, Shakespeare's own world begins, and that originality, difficult as it is now to isolate, has become our norm for representation of fictive personages."

The first play of Shakespeare's to be filmed was KING JOHN in 1899 with Beerbohm Tree as John. It was a silent, of course, which seems odd to us, but what the 19th-century British theatre loved was what the late 20th- and early 21st-century Broadway theatre loved: spectacle, and KING JOHN, with it's two coronations, processions, battle confrontations etc provided expansive opportunities for hundreds and hundreds of extras swanning about in lovely costumes.



"Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth."
     The Bastard Act I scene i

"...that pale, that white-faced shore,
Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides
And coops from other lands her islanders,
...that England, hedged in with the main,
That water-walled bulwark, still secure
And confident from foreign purposes,
... that utmost corner of the West..."
     Austria Act II scene i

"I was never so bethumped with words
Since first I called my brother's father Dad."
     The Bastard Act II scene i

"Mad world, mad kings, mad composition!"
     The Bastard Act II scene i

"That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling Commodity,
Commodity, the bias of the world"
     The Bastard Act II scene i


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