Richard III

The conniving hunchbacked villain comes into his own in the capper to the Henry VI plays, lying to friend and foe, soliloquizing his exploits to the audience. We burst forth with the famous “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York, and all the clouds that lowered upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
Act 1: Scene 1, Richard bares his soul, his plans for the crown, to us the audience alone. Brother Clarence is sent to the Tower, where soon Richard sends killers to dispatch a rival to the throne. Richard woos his brother’s widow Anne as the coffin of Henry VI stands nearby (Richard killed him in the Tower of London), he blames her beauty on why he slew her husband and brothers and father. Sadly, she falls for this nonsense. We learn that King Edward is ill, Richard pretends to have no interest in the throne (a theme throughout), he hires killers to murder Clarence.
Act 2: sick Edward reconciles all the warring Dukes, the widowed Queens all bemoan their losses of husbands and sons (another theme: one-upmanship of grief). Citizens in the street don’t look forward to the transition to a boy king. One of the princes tries out his impudent line about how his uncle great so fast he had teeth at two hours old, which would have been said in biting jest. “Pitchers have ears” comes from this section.
Act 3: The prince arrives, his other uncles arrested by Gloucester/Richard, and is immediately ensconced in the Tower of London. The arrested uncles (Grey, Rivers, Vaughan) are executed. Scene IV is a bit weird– Richard arrives in an ebullient mood, asks Ely to send for the strawberries in his garden, everyone comments on how pleasant he looks, then Richard rains down terror onto Hastings, sending him to his death. Later, the mayor of London is fooled into backing Richard as King, after Buckingham extolls his virtues.
Act 4: The widowed queens are bemoaning again, Anne is summoned to be Queen. Richard is kinged. Tyrrel the murderer is procured to manage the smothering of the two princes in the tower. Richard is intercepted by Elizabeth, whom he entreats to help him woo Elizabeth as his wife, since Anne is killed off (“Let rumors abound of her sickness.”) There are pages and pages of back & forth between Richard and Elizabeth. Richard finds out about armies massing against him.
Act 5: Henry of Richmond is returned to fight, to claim the throne. Ghosts of Richard’s victims appear to him in sleep. Richard is slain (A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!), peace reigns in England.