Shakespeare’s Other Eden
Richard II by Ouroboros Theatre Company (2013)
Among Shakespeare’s History Plays, Richard II is arguably the less known and less produced. For a long time, the fall of the anointed king was shown to English audiences with the interesting omission of the abdication scene (Act IV), while in Ireland the play has long been taken to be a tragic reminder of the Island’s colonial past. It is arguably for this reason that there is a significant lack of professional productions of Richard II in Ireland, and equally there is a significant lack of critical attention to its fate on the Irish stage. However, in recent years, attempts have been made to re-appropriate a canonical text whose plot lends itself to reflections on history and the past, and to the place of man in relation to both. One such instance is a production of Shakespeare’s play presented by the Dublin-based Ouroboros Theatre Company. This study looks at the way in which Ouroboros relocates the story of King Richard II in Ireland, using the source play creatively to travel across a century of Irish history and reflect upon the making of the country that it is today.