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The Life and Death of King Richard the Second

Plot Summary

In the presence of King Richard, Henry Bullingbrook accuses Thomas Mowbray of embezzling crown funds and of plotting the death of his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. They will not be reconciled and are about to fight, but Richard stops the combat before it can begin. Bullingbrook is exiled for ten years (later reduced to six); Mowbray is exiled for life. John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster, uncle to the king and father to Bullingbrook) dies after accusing Richard of improper government. Richard orders the seizure of Gaunt's property, thus denying Bullingbrook his inheritance. He then departs for Ireland, appointing his other uncle York to govern in his absence. Northumberland reveals that Bullingbrook has returned to England with an army. Bullingbrook persuades his uncle York that he has returned for his rightful inheritance, not to start a rebellion against the crown.

Richard returns from Ireland to discover that his Welsh troops have deserted him, that York has allied himself with Bullingbrook, and that the common people are rising against him. Bullingbrook and his supporters meet with Richard. Bullingbrook promises to surrender his arms if his banishment is repealed and his inheritance restored. Richard agrees to his demands. Richard's cousin Aumerle is accused of murdering the Duke of Gloucester. Bullingbrook arrests everyone involved in the allegations. Richard agrees to abdicate. Bullingbrook announces his coronation. A plot is hatched to restore Richard to the throne. York discovers that his son Aumerle is involved in a plot to kill Bullingbrook. Aumerle confesses to Bullingbrook, and is pardoned. Richard is killed whilst imprisoned in Pomfret Castle. Bullingbrook receives news of his supporters' efforts to defeat his detractors. Exton presents Richard's body to Bullingbrook, only to be rewarded with banishment. Bullingbrook promises to undertake a pilgrimage to expiate his sins.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1964 RST: Peter Hall, John Barton, Clifford Williams
John Bury (settings, costumes), Ann Curtis (costumes); Guy Woolfenden (music)

David Warner (Richard II), Eric Porter (Bolingbroke), Charles Thomas (Aumerle), Paul Hardwick (York), David Waller (Northumberland), Roy Dotrice (Harry Percy), Roy Dotrice (John of Gaunt), Deborah Stanford (Isabel), Madoline Thomas (Duchess of Gloucester), Patience Collier (Duchess of York), John Corvin (Lord Willoughby), William Squire (Mowbray), Derek Waring (Bagot), David Hargreaves (Bushy), Jeffery Dench (Green), Michael Rose (Bishop of Carlisle), Michael Rose (Salisbury), Philip Brack (Exton), Malcolm Webster (First Gardener), Tim Wylton (Second Gardener), Gareth Morgan (Welsh Captain), Peter Geddis (Groom)

1971 RST and Theatregoround: John Barton
Ann Curtis (design); John Bradley (lighting)

Richard Pasco (Richard II), Morgan Sheppard (Bolingbroke), Gordon Reid (Aumerle), Gordon Gostelow (York), Richard Mayes (Northumberland), Matthew Robertson (Henry Percy/Green), Anthony Langdon (John of Gaunt/Salisbury), Lisa Harrow (Isabel), Anne Dyson (Duchess of Gloucester), Elizabeth Spriggs (Duchess of York), Denis Holmes (Lord Willoughby/Bishop of Carlisle), Don Henderson (Mowbray), Ted Valentine (Bushy), Michael Rose (Salisbury), Roger Rees (Exton), Janet Whiteside (Lady)

1973 RST/1974 US Tour/1974 RST/1974 Aldwych: John Barton
Timothy O'Brien, Tazeena Firth (design); David Hersey (lighting); James Walker (music adaptation)

Richard Pasco or Ian Richardson (Richard II), Ian Richardson or Richard Pasco (Bolingbroke), Nickolas Grace/Jonathan Kent (Aumerle), Sebastian Shaw (York), Clement McCallin (Northumberland), John Abbott/Julian Barnes (Harry Percy), Tony Church/Clement McCallin (John of Gaunt), Janet Chappell (Isabel), Janet Whiteside (Duchess of Gloucester), Beatrix Lehmann/Hilda Braid (Duchess of York), Gavin Campbell (Lord Willoughby), Denis Holmes (Mowbray/First Gardener), Robert Ashby/Michael Ensign (Bushy), Ray Armstrong (Green), Brian Glover (Bishop of Carlisle), Richard Mayes (Salisbury), Anthony Pedley (Exton), Peter Machin (Second Gardener), Wilfred Grove (Third Gardener), David Suchet (Soldier), Louise Jameson (Lady)

1980 RST/1981 Aldwych: Terry Hands
Farrah (design); Terry Hands, Clive Morris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Alan Howard (Richard II), David Suchet (Bolingbroke), Jonathan Hyde (Aumerle), Tony Church (York), Bruce Purchase (Northumberland), Chris Hunter (Harry Percy), Raymond Westwell (John of Gaunt), Domini Blythe (Isabel), Judith Harte/Avril Clark (Duchess of Gloucester), Eve Pearce (Duchess of York), Hugh Ross/Richard Cordery (Lord Willoughby), John Bowe (Mowbray), Gordon Dulieu (Bagot), Paul Webster (Bushy), Bille Brown (Green), Trevor Baxter (Bishop of Carlisle), Michael Siberry (Salisbury), Terry Wood (Exton), Dennis Clinton (Gardener), Jimmy Gardner (First Gardener's Man), Sior Tudor-Owen (Welsh Captain)

1986 RST/1987 Barbican: Barry Kyle
William Dudley (design); Mark Henderson (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)

Jeremy Irons (Richard II), Michael Kitchen (Bolingbroke), Paul Venables (Aumerle), Bernard Horsfall (York), Richard Easton (Northumberland), Nathaniel Parker (Harry Percy), Brewster Mason (John of Gaunt), Imogen Stubbs/Denica Fairman (Isabel), Eileen Page (Duchess of Gloucester), Rosalind Boxall (Duchess of York), Stan Pretty (Lord Willoughby), Richard Moore (Mowbray), Malcolm Hassall (Bagot), Raymond Bowers (Bushy), Robert Morgan (Green), Robert Demeger/John Burgess (Bishop of Carlisle), Dennis Edwards/Edward Jewesbury (Salisbury), John Patrick (Exton), Raymond Bowers (Gardener), Roger Watkins (Welsh Captain), Roger Moss (Groom), Jane Lancaster (Lady)

1990 RST/1991 Barbican: Ron Daniels
Antony McDonald (design); James F. Ingalls (lighting); Orlando Gough (music)

Alex Jennings (Richard II), Anton Lesser (Bolingbroke), Linus Roache/Peter De Jersey (Aumerle), David Waller/Bernard Lloyd (York), Paul Jesson (Northumberland), George Anton/Stephen Casey (Harry Percy), Alan MacNaughtan (John of Gaunt), Yolanda Vazquez/Valentina Yakunina (Isabel), Margaret Robertson (Duchess of Gloucester), Marjorie Yates (Duchess of York), Richard Avery (Lord Willoughby), Mike Dowling (Mowbray), Andrew Havill (Bagot), Dominic Mafham (Bushy), Vincent Regan (Green/Exton), John Bott (Bishop of Carlisle), Alec Linstead (Gardener), Jamie Hinde (His Man), John Hodgkinson (Welsh Captain), Callum Dixon (Groom), Lucy Slater, Rowena King (Ladies)

2000 TOP/2000-01 Pit: Steven Pimlott ('This England: the Histories')
Sue Willmington (design), David Fielding (environment design); Simon Kemp (lighting); Jason Carr (music)

Samuel West (Richard II), David Troughton (Bolingbroke), Alexis Daniel (Aumerle), David Killick (York), Christopher Saul (Northumberland), Adam Levy (Harry Percy), Alfred Burke (John of Gaunt/Gardener), Catherine Walker (Isabel), Janet Whiteside (Duchess of Gloucester/Duchess of York), Sam Cox (Lord Willoughby), Paul Greenwood (Mowbray/Bishop of Carlisle), Dickon Tyrrell (Bagot), Paul McEwan (Bushy/Exton), William Buckhurst (Green), William Whymper (Salisbury/Westminster), Tim Treloar (Welsh Captain)