As adapted from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Parts 1-3, and Richard III, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Thirty years after Henry V’s victory at Agincourt, Henry is dead and England is at war with the French provinces he conquered. Seeking to forge a working peace and secure his own position at court, the Earl of Suffolk captures, then woos the beautiful French princess, Margaret, on behalf of the new king, the pious Henry VI.
Arriving in England with great ceremony, Margaret’s romantic notions of the life awaiting her are soon shattered. Henry proves a pale reflection of the charming Suffolk while Margaret’s hope for influence at court is dashed on the rocks of England’s fading prospects in France. The peace she represents only sharpens division between two rival Houses; that of York–heirs of Richard II and wearers of the white rose–and Lancaster–heirs of Henry IV, who deposed Richard decades earlier and who take the red rose as their symbol. When Margaret and Henry are slow to produce a royal heir, the power struggle in the English court begins in earnest.
Intrigues swirl and treacheries multiply, soon exploding into full-scale combat as “the fatal colors of the striving houses” of York and Lancaster flare into the Wars of the Roses. In the ensuing conflict, Queen Margaret emerges as the impassioned, sometimes ruthless defender of her son’s right to a crown her husband seems all too ready to relinquish. Her story moves from victory to defeat, renewed hope to final humiliation.
Margaret’s tutelage in the harsh realities of English politics finally grants her a Cassandra-like insight into the falsehood of the “glorious summer” promised by the sons of York and the violent events Shakespeare wrote of in the next play in this history cycle: Richard III.