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Monday, March 23, 2015

King John

I'm up to Act 4 now.

Oh man it is such an intense play packed with twists and turns. Characters take turns throwing flaming insults at each other. Oh the madness, rage, and screaming. Why isn't it being revived more often? Why had I never heard of it before?

At the center of the plot is King John who is stuck in an impossible situation. His brother, Richard the Lionheart had passed his throne to John, but their older brother's son Arthur, still a teenager, had a better claim. Although John seized the crown with force, France was trying to invade and install Arthur. When John captured Arthur in battle, he was stuck between rock and a hard place. Keep Arthur around, France would invade in the name of rescuing the rightful king. Get rid of Arthur, which was what he did, would drive barons already annoyed by his fiscal policies into open rebellion. To add to his siege was the Pope, in a dispute with John not unlike the one between the Vatican and Henry VIII three hundred years later. 

Yes, John was a kinslayer, but what else could he do? He was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. I thought about it and thought about it --- Short of conceding the crown to his nephew, he had no way out of the dilemma. I suppose it is a far more common situation in human history than we are willing to admit to ourselves --- The choices you are given are no choice at all. You are fucked no matter what you do.

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