There are many instances in Shakespeare’s plays of Mothers and Fathers speaking of their children. In celebration of Mother’s Day, March’s Picture of the Month features an image from the RSC’s 2001 production of King John; Shakespeare’s neglected history play, directed by Greg Doran. The centre of the play is the tragic fate of the Prince Arthur, the young claimant to the English throne. Constance, his mother and King John’s sister-in-law, “has to strike a balance between unmitigated grief for her son, and theatrical grief for its own sake” (John Gross, The Sunday Telegraph, 1/4/2001), which Kelly Hunter managed successfully in a very strong performance. This image from Act 3 Scene 1 shows Constance’s emotional reaction after she learns that Louis the Dauphin is to marry Blanche, King John’s niece, thus jeopardising Arthur’s claim to the throne of England.
Louis marry Blanche? O boy, then where art thou?
France friend with England, what becomes of me?
In this pivotal scene, Constance moves from aggression towards political irrelevance and her maternal lament, foreshadowing Arthur’s death in Act 4 Scene 3.