Shakespeare: Teacher's Pets

Three plays I have greatly enjoyed - each a triumph of Shakespeare's understanding of human nature. "Love's Labours Lost" was, at the time, a very topical play, with playgoers easily recognizing the pretentious men. King Ferdinand and three friends vow to give up women and apply themselves to a life of study for three years. The arrival of a princess and her three attendants causes havoc among the men and much fun for the women. "Henry IV" deposed the Richard II. He was tortured throughout his reign with the guilt of regicide, "friends" who wanted his crown, and a son cavorting in low places. A tuning portrait of guilt. Shakespeare introduces his second greatest character - the rascal Falstaff. "Richard III" is my all-time favorite play. Richard was a deliciously evil man, killing everyone in his way to the throne. His opening soliloquy lays out his plan - charm when he can, murder when he can't. Family or friend - it makes no difference. Audiences find themselves curiously rooting for Richard until he makes a fatal mistake. His toppling led to the Tudor succession and Elizabeth, so Shakespeare treads carefully.

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