A new production of some of the history plays is being brought out by the BBC: BBC Two - The Hollow Crown - Episode guide BBC - Media Centre - The Hollow Crown
I watched Richard II last, and it was pretty good; kept in the proper medieval setting (beautiful landscapes and castles etc.), with no tiresome director's fancies; it can be seen now on iplayer. The play has a slow start of course, but it gets better and better, and the abdication scene is very well done here. Although much of this play is in rhyming verse, I really cannot think that it is that difficult to understand!
"Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?"
There is only a single word in that which might require explanation!