King Richard III isn’t quite as mad as he’s usually portrayed

The White Queen has gone from strength to strength as the true story (well, true-ish story) of her much troubled reign is told and the characters are brought to life. The thing is, the characters who I found of greater interest we’re only now getting to see them more closely. Lord Stanley’s many background shenanigans could have been better told, although his scheming wife Margaret, has been very entertaining. But it’s the brother-in-law King Richard III who is finally getting his 15 minutes, and Aneurin Barnard’s performance has been particularly good, as we sympathise with his character as he’s torn inside by doubt and paranoia after snatching his nephew’s crown. This is a refreshing change, because we’re more familiar with his “Mad King” image from Shakespeare’s Machiavellian version Richard III. According to the bones of Richard III, very recently found, he did indeed have a back deformation, but no withered arm, or anything else that would be classed in those days as physically abnormal. Here, he’s seen as basically a good man, who is in love with his wife but can’t handle the pressure he’s under from all sides. We are meant to believe this is why he’s acted the way he has.

Now that Richard has been crowned King of England, he rewards those who have been faithful to him, with Lord Stanley handed Lord High Constable of England plus the beheaded Anthony Rivers’ old title Order of the Garter , also Henry Stafford becoming Duke of Buckingham Lord Chamberlain of England, with Sir Robert Brackenbury given the position of Constable of The Tower. Brackenbury is now in charge of the imprisoned princes, and is at one point asked to deal with them by Queen Anne. The people of London are against the new king for keeping them in the Tower, and thanks to this fact, Dowager Elizabeth is able to gain sympathy for her cause, by getting Stanley and a small group of allies to storm the Tower, but it fails and the princes are never seen alive again. The King is suspected which causes him much grief, and he even visits Elizabeth in sanctuary to try to assure her he had no hand in their disappearance.

Anne and Richard want their son to be named Prince of Wales but now that the two princes are presumed dead things are put on hold. Elizabeth has put a curse on the killers of her son, cursing their offspring too, and because Anne believes she’s responsible for the boys’ death, she fears for her sons life. Margaret and Stanley are trying their best to undermine the King but Richard finally discovers Margaret’s treachery. He intercepts a letter and learns he has been betrayed by Henry Stafford as well and the two are supposed to meet in battle. Elizabeth comes to an agreement with lady Margaret betrothing her eldest daughter to Henry Tudor, meaning if Henry lands and defeats Richard, her daughter will become Queen of England.

Grade: A

Review by E. Blackadder, special to Influx Magazine

Scripted by Emma Frost from Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Cousins’ War’- Directed by Colin Teague.

The Cast: Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville, Max Irons as King Edward, Janet McTeer as Jacquetta Woodville, Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort, Faye Marsay as Anne Neville, David Oakes as George Duke of Clarence, Aneurin Barnard as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Ben Lamb as Anthony Rivers, Tom McKay as Jasper Tudor, Rupert Graves as Lord Thomas Stanley, Caroline Goodall as Duchess Cicely.

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