York’s Lost Son Found

_65692930_skull_11Now is the winter of our discontent made…not quite “glorious summer” but at least “pretty pleasant spring” by this son of York.

The remains of Richard Duke of York, briefly King Richard III of England, have been found at the bottom of a car park (the last place anyone would think to look).  Yorkist historians across the world will be partying like it’s 1483.  The press conference televised  on BBC this morning made it quite clear the historians involved in the quest to identify Richard’s remains are thoroughly pleased with themselves–as they should be.  Thirty-nine minutes worth of evidence, explanations and visual aids preceded the final announcement that yes, indeed, it’s Richard.  Big hugs and high-fives all around!

Fans of the last Wars of the Roses Plantagenet King want very much to take this opportunity to clear Richard’s reputation so thoroughly slandered by William Shakespeare.  How exactly they plan to use a skeleton to do this is a bit beyond me.  Perhaps he hid a rolled up scroll in his femur saying words to to the effect of: “I never done those boys.  It were Henry I swear.  Just ask him, he filmed it on his mobile.”

I have to admit, much as I adore the Bard he does have a lot to answer for with his creative interpretation of history.  But with the Lancastrian family finally sticking their red rose up the crown, securing their victory through a Clan York marriage no less to usher in the Tudor dynasty…  What’s a poor playwright to do?  And anyway…how much damage did Shakespeare actually do?

imagesI see Shakespeare’s Richard as more of an anti-hero, long before any other dramatists has a concept of what an anti-hero was.  The Bard gives Richard some of the best and bloody longest speeches in the Shakespearean cannon.  By the time he gets done with his pre-Bosworth soliloquy you’re almost cheering for the wordy bastard to die in some creatively nasty and blissfully silent fashion.  But there is also dramatic affection for this flawed king.  After all, he is the title character and has the most stage time.  He may be an evil hunchback, but, in a masterfully crafted and macabre scene of poetic seduction, he manages to pull the rather fit Anne–despite the fact he killed her first husband.  I ask you: how many men would kill for that kind of street cred?

No doubt the Pro-Richard of York supporters will be milking this unearthing of their slandered hero’s bones for some time to come.  I predict  very interesting interpretations of Shakespeare’s play on the horizon.  Perhaps the RSC should secure Brad Pitt for the role.  Trust me…no one will be looking at his hunched back!

2 thoughts on “York’s Lost Son Found

  1. Funny you should say that–Iago not Dick Cheney.
    The gentleman pictured above playing the role of Richard III is Conrad Nelson of Northern Broadsides. This is from a production they did of Wars of the Roses in 2006 which ranks up there with my top five favourite theatre experiences of all time. Anyway, Mr Nelson managed to portray a very charismatic, funny and even sympathetic Richard. I didn’t even want to strangle him midway through his Bosworth speech. He gave an almost Gollum-like approach to it, as if he were two people both battling for control of Richard’s soul. Unfortunately, this same marvelous actor absolutely slaughtered Iago by playing him as close to a Pantomime villain as you can get without a green spotlight.
    Now, I have actually seen Iago done….not exactly sympathetically but not too far off. This would have been RSC in 1999 because it was my first trip to the UK. The first half played out almost like a semi-light-hearted romantic comedy. Then, in the scene where Iago tells Othello about Desdemona and Cassio, suddenly the whole tone changed. BOOM! Iago looked shocked and overwhelmed by the intensity of Othello’s response…as if he did not realise what he would unleash with this lie.
    The rest of the play was carried on the tides of Othello’s rage while Iago was trying to distance himself and pin the blame on anyone he could to save his own ass. It was very interesting.

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