Inside the mind of a writer

The highlight of our Christmas was a visit to the Barbican Theatre, London, on Saturday 21 December 2013, to see David Tennant performing in the role of Shakespeare’s Richard II.

David Tennant as Richard II (photo credit Kwame Lestrade)

David Tennant as Richard II (photo credit Kwame Lestrade)

Richard II is one of English history’s villains.

So who better to play him on stage and change our view of him than one of our contemporary heroes,  the charismatic David Tennant?

But Richard II is also one of those kings who is a mystery to many of us; what we do know may be gleaned from primary school history, or a visit to Westminster Abbey.

There the main thing we learn about him is that he was murdered on the orders of his successor, Henry IV, and his body was initially buried somewhere else, but eventually Henry IV felt so guilty he moved the former king to the grand tomb he’d originally had built for himself in Westminster Abbey – which is where we may contemplate him today.

Richard II: An Unbalanced King, we are told in the brilliant comic classic book 1066 And All That, was only a boy at his accession: one day, however, suspecting that he was now twenty-one, he asked his uncle, and, on learning that he was, mounted the throne himself and tried first being a Good King and then being a Bad King, without enjoying either very much.

David Tennant’s Richard II showed us a petulant, whining, rather effete, figure in what my two teenagers could only describe as long hair and a long white nightie (and of course a crown on his head).

We were there because my two teenagers love David Tennant for being Doctor Who.

Yet how he opened up my view of this  bad king.

All the raw vulnerability of the character was there, and I ended up feeling much more  about Richard than that he was simply a baddie basking in undeserved glory in a tomb in Westminster Abbey.

Instead he was a real live fragile human being, with his moral weakness and disastrous decisions, different on the inside from the outside, as we all are.

This is what I wrote about Richard II in an ezine article in 2011:

For example, take a walk round Westminster Abbey, as I did the other day – here, in this major spiritual hub and London tourist attraction you’ll pass the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, and find clustered around him many monuments and tombs. The official tourist guide says these speak both of human dignity and achievement. But do they? Among them we find both the goodies and the baddies. Some are noble but others got there by ruthlessly exploiting everyone and everything in their lust for power.

Of course, after contemplating Richard II, who was so awful he was murdered by his successor, but still eventually ended up in the grand tomb he’d built for himself in the abbey, we can then move on to Poets Corner which shows us a much better aspect of human nature, celebrating creativity and genius to uplift and inspire us.

But now Shakespeare and David Tennant between them have deepened my view of Richard – as all great creatives must do with the characters they portray.


Comments on: "A Fresh Insight Into One of History’s Villains, With the Help of Shakespeare and David Tennant" (2)

  1. Chris & Freda Skillman said:

    Now I know why David Tennant had his hair in a pigtail on Graham Norton’s Show this autumn!

    • Yes we saw him on Graham Norton’s Show too & were particularly struck by the pony tail. What amuses me about his appearance as Richard II – long white robe and long hair – is that it reminds me of the illustrations in my childhood book of poems by AA Milne. I remember the illustration to the poem about bad King John – although he was 150 years earlier than Richard II, their style of dress didn’t change much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud


Each night I travel the world, I live in the minds of killers and walk at the side of heros.


My reviews and thoughts about the books i have read

Cleopatra Loves Books

One reader's view

Bibliophile Book Club

Books, books and more books!

746 Books

Confessions of a Book Buying Addict

The Book Review Café

Reviews & All Things Book Related

The Book Blogger

a teenager's take on books old and new

The Silent Eye

A Modern Mystery School

Rosie Amber

Book Reviewer, Avid Reader and Bookworm. Campaigning to link more readers to writers. People do not forget books that touch them or excite them—they recommend them.

Chat About Books

Book reviews, author interviews, blog tours..... since October 2015

black books blog

Welcome to black books blog

Grenfell Action Group

Working to defend and serve the Lancaster West community

The Gay Stepdad

Mincing My Way Through Life

Image & Word

Life the way I see it...

Melanie Roussel

The blog of an aspiring author and Londoner.


Writing, the Universe and whatever occurs to me

%d bloggers like this: