(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 10/4.)
By the riverside at Kingston upon Thames, theatrical history is being remade. The Wars of the Roses was the crowning glory of the early years of the RSC, lending it vital legitimacy. Now it has been set upon the stage for the first time since 1963: a colossal undertaking, and a high-risk one.
Peter Hall and John Barton’s amalgamation of Shakespeare’s early tetralogy – forging the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III into a trilogy capable of being viewed across a single day – is the stuff of hallowed, nay mythologised memory. It’s also a work of legendary semi-sacrilege: the rebel-minded scholarly Barton re-ordered scenes, axed characters and presumed to add over 1,400 lines of his own pastiche blank verse invention.
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