Page:Richard II (1921) Yale.djvu/144

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132
The Life and Death of
 

Early in the nineteenth century we find Macready playing it in the provinces, at Newcastle in 1812, at Glasgow in 1813, and finally, a little before he went up to London, at Bath, January 26, 1815. His play was Shakespeare, unaltered save by omissions. He played it once again, in his prime, at the Haymarket, December 2, 1850.

Shortly after Macready 's production in Bath, his great contemporary, Edmund Kean, played Richard II in Wroughton's adaptation (Drury Lane, March 9, 1815). Up to the fifth act the alterations consist chiefly of omissions, notably in dovetailing the first and third scenes of the first act, and cutting practically everything out of the Parliament scene except the abdication itself. The Duchesses of Gloucester and York are left out entirely, but a gentlewoman named Blanche is attached to the Queen. In the garden scene, Isabel sits in a garden chair while Blanche sings a song, 'What fragrance scents the vernal air!' In the fifth act, the Queen takes on much more importance than Shakespeare gave her. In a new scene, she comes to Bolingbroke to tell him of a premonition of Richard's death and to demand another interview with him. Undergoing a complete change of heart, probably on account of her great affection, Bolingbroke not only grants the interview but follows her to the Tower to restore Richard and atone for his wrongs. The murder scene follows as in Shakespeare, up to the point where Richard is struck down; here the Queen rushes in, he dies in her arms, and she faints. Bolingbroke now enters, and the Queen revives, to speak the lines of Lear over Cordelia, and die. King Henry is so struck with remorse that he wishes he were dead in Richard's place. Lines from Henry VI, Troilus and Cressida, and Antony and Cleopatra also are worked in at various places. This was Edmund Kean's standard