But when I did my own rankings, I listed it as my 13th favorite Shakespeare play, ahead of The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and even The Taming of the Shrew.
So I thought it would be a good time to say a few words about why I ranked it so high. And because today is Saturday, I think I’ll do it as an anagram.
From King John:
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form:
Then have I reason to be fond of grief.
Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows’ cure!
Shift around the letters, and it becomes:
Why do I build up King John?
Hamnet’s death fills our Bard with sensitivity to how parents suffer the loss of children. This monologue of Constance seems to be ripped from his sad soul. Wow.
Unlike whiny crummy dorky wimpy gruff bastards from Much Ado or Lear, suaver Falconbridge is a wise fool. Welcomed to the royal family, he is a merry commentator of events, to mystify or befuddle foes with wry whimsy.
The odd solipsism in Mommy plus the portrayal of young Arthur are also why I recommend this history.