Henry IV Part Two

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


On the upper stage… Rumour began 2 Henry IV with no tongues painted on his costume but a gaggle of gossips’ tongues whirring on the main stage below him. He told us Northumberland was “crafty sick.” How does one imagine Northumberland? If he is really crafty sick, why should his wife and daughter care about him? Perhaps they dont; perhaps they only care about what he can do for them… These interpretations are possible ones but textually unresolved and therefore somewhat distracting…Ashland’s genuinely weak Northumberland added to the play the parallel of real sickness and demise in both Northumberland and Bolingbroke. What stature Rumour lost by this interpretation of Northumberland, he more than regained from the Ashland productions interpretation of Falstaff, who managed to wound Pistol only because Bardolph joined the fight and who captured Colville only because Colville had been severely wounded before the encounter. That Colville believed such a Falstaff valiant and honorable attested to Rumour’s powers and gave point to Falstaff’s brag that he had a belly full of tongues. A noteworthy aspect of this production was the addition of a brief but impressive Coronation Scene complete with Latin invocation. The scene was placed at the beginning of V. v, in lieu of the Folio-directed first passing of the King and his train over the stage. As a transitional moment between a Hal so immersed in low-life as to kiss Doll Tearsheet (albeit a somewhat youngish Doll) and a Hal grown temperate, just, and noble, the added scene was entirely successful. One would expect, however, that if a changed attitude both in Hal and toward him in others prompted the inclusion of a Coronation Scene, that the effect would be continued in some kind of staged obeisance to the new king in procession.


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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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