I struck gold the other night. This is why I persist in chasing these small productions. I wish I were a better writer so I could do justice to these guys. Here’s how they staged the last scenes. Hang on.
It’s nearing the end of the War of the Roses. Having cut King Henry’s throat, Richard (who will eventually become Richard III after much violence, bloodshed and treachery) stands over him, knife in hand, thinks of his two brothers who are the only thing standing between him and the crown, and says with a malevolent grin:
I can smile and murder whiles I smile.
Henry lies at his feet, face down, in a crumpled mass. A thin trickle of blood starts from high in the theater rafters and drizzles on the King’s back. (Now THAT’S hitting your mark.) A small pool forms on his garment and then begins to puddle around him. All the while, Richard is spinning his evil intent.
The final scene takes place in the court of the newly crowned King Edward IV. He orders a celebration and gives a rousing speech assuring the kingdom that the long years of war are finally over and that they stand on the cusp of peace and prosperity. During the celebration, King Henry is still upstage and the blood continues to trickle and pool around him. The cost of that peace is made graphically clear.
Then, the court clears, the lights dim, the scene changes and Richard bounds out from the back of the theater, mad and naked, hides behind the overturned throne and recites a few lines from the Now is the winter of our discontent… speech that begins Richard III, effectively linking these two plays.
The blood stops flowing. The play ends. The cast comes out for their curtain call. Everyone except for Henry. He’s still lying on the stage in his own blood. The crowd files out and Henry never moves. Nervous laughter from the departing audience. Fucking brilliant.
This was Wide Eyed’s production of King Henry VI, Part III. It’s in a small, black box theater down on 13th Street and 3rd Avenue. The entire production was one, long (3:15) holy shit. There’s a guy named Ben Newman who played Richard who was so effective that I wouldn’t want to meet him on the street. Also, props to Nat Cassidy as Henry, the King who never wanted to be King and Justin R.G. Holcomb as the Earl of Warwick. Who are these guys? Three unknowns who don’t deserve to be.