Had a pre-move clearout the other day and came across a copy of Richard II which I studied for English Literature 'O' level. Loads of hand written notes in the margin but having a quick scan through I was totally lost to the meaning. Makes me think did the original audience for these productions have a clue what the play was about, or was it an excuse to get out of the slums for the night?
I suspect the original audience was pretty clued-up on the gossip and undertone to a lot of the plays; if you played an episode of HIGNFY to someone a few hundred years from now, they probably wouldn't 'get' more than 10% of it (not an ideal comparison, but probably not far off when you factor in the differences in media).
I did Richard II at school, and found it pretty interesting, although if I hadn't had a copy of the 'York Notes' textbook I would've given up fairly quickly!
...pretend here is reality, and not some expectant itch of july...