Cassler, Robert. Second in the Realm. Encore Performance Publishing, 1996. 65 pp. A- 8-12 Reviewed by Kathy Bruderer. This story of the signing of the Magna Carta begins with Stephen Langton, a teacher of theology admired by his former pupil, Pope Innocent. Conflict arises when King John, brother of the late Richard the Lion Heart, discovers that Pope Innocent III has refused his choice for the next Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pope, set on having Langton as Archbishop, uses his power to coerce the King into appointing Langton by placing the entire country of England under an interdict (excommunication from the Church). After a few years of rebellion, the King succumbs to the Pope’s proposal and repents of his sins by giving the Church control of England and Ireland. Once Langton is appointed Archbishop, he is appalled to discover the King interfering in Church elections and goes against both the Pope and the King in proposing the Magna Carta. The Pope’s opposition to the Magna Carta surprises Langton, but all attempts to sway him are unsuccessful. Finally, the death of Pope Innocent and King John allow Langton to fully enforce the Magna Carta, which begins the organization of Parliament in England. The background of the Magna Carta presented in this play is designed to be a historical learning tool. To create major time and place shifts, the script calls for the use of a scrim and spotlight to enhance the effects of a simple stage with minimal furniture and props. Authentic costumes of the royalty and church authorities of the thirteenth-century should be used for optimal effect. The play requires three pre-recorded voices in addition to eight men, one woman, and an optional nine-year-old boy. A minor action character serves as a narrator to keep the audience informed. This play is best for older audiences because of complex concepts and the formal presentation of the information. From: Ellis, Roger, ed. International Plays for Young Audiences: Contemporary Works from Leading Playwrights. Meriwether Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1566080657. $16.95. 424 pp. K-12 Reviewed by Lindsay Adamson
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