Stratford Ontario Gives Stages to 2 Shakespeare Kings
By Lawrence B. Johnson
STRATFORD, Ontario --One play declares with edged irony, “All is true.” The other leaves its characters collectively asking, “Where in all these tangled events is the truth?” But in neither of Shakespeare’s early and late history plays, “King John” and “Henry VIII,” is there a role for anything recognizable as Plain Truth.
“King John” and “Henry VIII,” which share relative obscurity as well as their common theme of relative certitude, make midsummer debuts this weekend at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
King John, who reigned in the first years of the 13th century, is the earliest English monarch to be given a stage persona by Shakespeare. This is the same King John portrayed so darkly in the Robin Hood legend, the brother of (and immediate successor to) Richard I, called “Lion Heart.”