Buffalo News, Forums and Opinions
Live Forums and Blogs | Onlinebuffalo.com | Erie County | City of Buffalo 

Last Updated: Mar 8th, 2019 - 17:19:30 

WNY News
Government Waste
Labor & Management
Letters to the Editor
Local Opinions
Local WNY Websites
New Government Structure
Press Releases
Taxes and Fees
WNY Health
WNY Business
Buffalo Sports
Insiders Corner


THE LIFE AND DEATH OF KING JOHN The New Phoenix Theatre Company
Mar 8, 2019, 17:11
Email this article
 Printer friendly page
Through March 23
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF KING JOHN The New Phoenix Theatre Company

Not “uneasy lies the head who wears the crown,” but “uneasy lies the heads around the crown.”
The New Phoenix Theatre is staging Lawrence Gregory Smith’s version of Shakespeare’s “The Life and Death of King John.”
He’s best known as the king who screwed things up so badly in English politics that he had to weaken the throne to the nobles with the Magna Carta.
As king, he even lost the Crown Jewels of the day.
He’s also a central figure in the Robin Hood tales, the prince who wanted to get rid of his brother King Richard and take the throne.
As a Plantagenet, John was a part of the family’s poisonous succession struggles at a time when it mattered who was in the line of succession, since kings ruled rather than reigned.
John became king when his older brother, Richard the Lionheart, was fatally wounded in battle.
That meant bypassing his young nephew, Arthur (Gianna Palermo) who had a much better claim to the throne, as the heir to John’s older brother Geoffrey.
This is the time of the long wars with France over the French trying to seize lands in their country from the English.
The wars go back to French weakness and the richest noble of her time and her vast and profitable lands in France, John’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Sarielys Matos).
Complicating it all was that she had been married to King Louis VII of France before she was married to John’s father, King Henry II.
It was a quirk of the day that she continued to hold her inheritance when women were basically not allowed to own anything.
If you want another look at this situation, try James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter” with its occasional local stagings.
“King John” isn’t a play done very often, carrying with it an image as one of Shakespeare’s earliest, weakest plays, one so weak it, apparently, wasn’t staged until a century and a half after it was written.
What Smith did to make this production work so successfully was slash down the story and the cast and put a sexually diverse cast in multiple roles, even Connor Caso’s King.
It’s all hard to follow.
The history of the time is hard to follow because so much has changed, from royal succession struggles to French history to the ability of the Pope to force kings to submit to papal authority, here represented by Cardinal Pandulph (Matos), the legate.
The best you can do is just sit back and relax and watch the deadly course of history, at least as far as the very politically conscious Shakespeare was willing to tell the tale, in a time when succession issues cost people lives.
He could stress the willingness of people around a ruler to kill when asked by the king.
Here, John wants his nephew, Prince Arthur, killed and a close aide agrees and then weakens.
John would have known, since his father had off-handedly ordered the murder of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, and four knights rode off and killed the churchman.
There are really three choices here: Should you see “The Life and Death of King John”?
It is very much worth seeing.
Should you look up political histories of John’s day?
You would probably be better off the look for a movie showing of some version of “Robin Hood,” since all versions seem to tell the tales of the lethal nature of royal succession troubles.
And, keep track of royal associate Hubert (Eric Mowery) and see what people are willing to do to curry favor with great men, then and now, even if he didn’t do as the king wanted.
Smith has some strong performers, Matos, Caso and Palermo.
Power has value and risk.


© Copyright 2017 - Speakupwny.com
hosted by Online Media, Inc
Buffalo Web Design and Web Hosting

Top of Page

Buffalo Theatre District
Latest Headlines
1984 Kavinoky Theatre
BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theatre
THE SIDEWALK STAGEPLAY Paul Robeson Theatre/African American Cultural Center
ANGELS IN AMERICA: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Part 1 Millennium Approaches Shea's Smith Theatre/Second Generation Theatre
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF KING JOHN The New Phoenix Theatre Company
FROST/NIXON Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
RAGTIMEMusicalFare Theatre/Daemen College
THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE Torn Space Theater/Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle;ORN
TALLEY'S FOLLY Seller Theatre/Jewish Repertory Theatre
TALES OF THE DRIVEN Manny Fried Playhouse/Subversive Theatre
THE KATHY AND MO SHOW: Parallel Lives/The Dark Side Shea's Smith Theatre/O'Connell & Company
SENSE & SENSIBILITY Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
THE ILLUSION Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theatre

Buffalo Web hosting and Buffalo Web Design By OnLineMedia, Inc

Part of