King John

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


[This production] was a blessedly honest and straightforward presentation of a play that most recent directors have preferred to subject to considerable adjustment. In the event it was heartening to discover how well the piece worked when staged by some-one whose understanding of Shakespeare’s material had been derived from a rigorous and sensitive reading of the text. Mr. Dews refused to let anything detract from John’s central position in the play… John probably has less of what may be called dramatic charisma than any major character in Shakespeare, and he is neither captain of his fate nor master of his soul. Indeed he is a man much beset. What Dew’s production made clear beyond was that the essence of the play’s action lies in that besetting, in the relentless construction of a net of people and events around the figure of the increasingly inept King… Edward Atienza, in what many have held to be the thankless role of the King, produced a devastating study of developing paranoia, a meticulously controlled delineation of the incontrollable… Atienza managed [the] death scene so skillfully, bringing to it all the horror of a man who feels nothing for himself except hatred, nothing for his life except a vicious anger, nothing for those around him except a querulous resentment, that the onlooker was appalled and at the same time moved to an uneasy pity for the weak man upon whom fate had made unfair demands for greatness… Mr. Rain gave us a forthright, vigorous bastard, equally believable in the commodity speech and in the final speech of the play; A skeptic without cynicism, courageous without heroics, principled without pretentiousness, this was a Bastard who did the supremely important thing of using his part to direct attention toward the King instead of drawing it away from him. (Berners W Jackson, Shakespeare Quarterly 25 [1974]: 399–400)


Central Position Important Thing Direct Attention Major Character Recent Director 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

There are no affiliations available

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