Lex-Ham Community Theater
Shakespeare Reading Series
King John

King John is the historical story of the battle for the English throne between King John and his nephew, Arthur, who was supported by Phillip II of France.  There is a lot of confusion with lots of Earls, a bastard son, the Pope, excommunications, battles, and domineering mothers adding to the fun.  How will it turn out?  Who will sit on the throne?

The play is filled with great speeches by the characters:
Constance's and Eleanor's 'bedlam' in Act II
Constance's reaction upon hearing that Lewis and Blanche are to wed in Act III, scene 1
The Bastard's insults to the French in Act V, scene 2.

Some interesting tidbits about the play:
Hubert speaks an anachronism in Act II when he talks about using gunpowder. It was not invented until much later.

Most people know King John as the signer of the Magna Carta in 1215. The event is not referred to at all in the play.

Some good references for the play are:

The Story
Text of the play

SparkNotes summary of the play
BBC on-line - Bad King John
Britannica.com - Monarchs of England/Great Britain
Background information
Shakespeare timeline - 1603
The Magna Carta

Sources
Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Film Versions
The Life and Death of King John (1984)
King John (1899 Silent Film)

Return to the Shakespeare Reading Series home page
Return to Lex-Ham Community Theater home page

Last updated: 08/03/02