Dramatis Personae: Richard II; Anne O'Beame; Nimble.
Text & Context: This play exists solely as an anonymous, untitled, and incomplete manuscript. It shows extensive wear as well as marginalia, suggesting theater use and censorship by the Master of Revels. Apparently written for a provincial touring troupe before Richard II and the enterprise of The Henriad was undertaken, its plot concerns the murder of Richard's uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, and fills the chronological space between Edward III and Richard II.
The language shows signs of similarity to other early works by Shakespeare, circa. 1580s, a sensitivity to female characters such as Anne O'beame, and the adumbration of later dogberryists in the character of Nimble. Missing Richard's deposition scene, outlawed on the stage after 1594, the text appears to advocate a constitutional monarchy a hundred years ahead of the fact. The political sensitivity of its subject matter and its eclipse by the somewhat notorious Richard II may account for the play's lack of publication and its relative disregard.
Thomas of Woodstock, or: Richard II Part One