After I rage quit this post last week and then vented about my frustrations with the Henry VI plays, I’m ready to give it a go, if only to get this over with. Bear with me as there is a lot to unpack as the final act kicks off the Wars of the Roses.
Scene 1: York strides onto the battlefield summarizing his plot to steal the throne from Henry. Remember he paid Cade (probably not enough since he died) to start a rebellion so he could sneak his army into England. Then, Buckingham enters and this is essentially what happens:
Buckingham: What do you think you’re doing?
York: [aside] He’s not speaking to me like a King. Let me lament on that for a few more lines.
York: Sorry for talking to myself for so long. I have come to save the King from the dastardly plotting of Somerset.
Buckingham: Well, he’s been imprisoned so…
York: Well then, go home army. I don’t need you.
I imagine the army would be pretty perplexed at this point, but maybe this was part of the plan all along? After they patch things up, the King enters. York assures him that he simply wanted Somerset removed and to help with Cade’s rebellion. Just then Iden, with his knack for perfect timing, enters with Cade’s head. Henry knights him. Then the Queen, to antagonize the situation, enters with Somerset. Henry tries to shoo her away, but she refuses. York is understandably upset at being flat out lied to and unleashes his true feelings about the King. Since everything that comes out of his mouth is treasonous, he is placed under arrest. He calls for his sons to help him and the Queen calls for Clifford.
York’s sons enter and then Clifford. Clifford kneels and greets the King. York forgives him for kneeling to the wrong guy. Clifford, confused, clarifies that he was indeed correct. The King explains that York thinks he is King and Clifford says he’ll take him and his sons to the Tower. York’s sons say they will speak and fight in his honor. Clifford says he’ll arrest them all.
Salisbury and Warwick come in at this point. Since Warwick is represented by a bear, there are some great bear puns exchanged. The King laments Salisbury’s betrayal and asks how he can break his oath to Henry. Salisbury says because he cannot keep an oath to a false king. They all puff up their chests and bloviate about fighting before actually leaving to fight.
Scene 2: Warwick shouts challenges at Clifford. York enters complaining that Clifford killed his horse (which is funny since his son will speak some famous lines about a horse in Richard III). Clifford enters and York takes him one-on-one. He remarks how sad he is that they are enemies. Then York kills him.
Young Clifford delivers a long soliloquy about war and then about losing his father and the revenge he will take on York. Then, he drags his father’s body off stage.
York’s son, Richard kills Somerset in the death with the least amount of dialogue attached to it. Richard points out the the prophesy was right and exits.
The King and Queen enter. The Queen tells the King to run. He says he won’t. She points out that he won’t fight and he won’t run, so he’s not being very helpful. She argues that if he is taken all is lost and they should flee to London. Young Clifford re-enters to agree with the Queen and they all exit.
Scene 3: The King’s army retreats. York asks after Salisbury, who is the only one not present. Richard explains that he saved him three times that day. Salisbury enters and praises their victory. York says it’s not over yet because the King fled to London. He coyly asks if they should follow. Warwick basically says “Heck yes we should go after them!” They go forth into the next play.