Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Richard III

Today's the day!

Yes, today's the day that the poor, mangled skeleton formerly known as King Richard III completes its journey from car park exhumation to cathedral re-interment. To commemorate the event, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at Shakespeare's version of this much-maligned English monarch. 

Shakespeare's Richard III is the villain you love to hate. He's charismatic and seductive, ruthless and manipulative, and a lot of fun to watch in action. He is, in short, a fantastic dramatic creation.

The real Richard III, of course, was a rather more nuanced character whose finer points - such as his strong leadership and introduction of political and judicial reforms - were all but obliterated by the pro-Tudor propaganda that proliferated after his demise. Whether or not he had a direct hand in the mysterious disappearance of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, cannot be proved one way or another. Please don't send me angry messages, Ricardians. I'm a little bit scared of you.

Anyways... rest in peace, Richard. If it's any consolation, you've had a much more exciting afterlife than most other English monarchs.

Check out my other Shakespearean Character Spotlights

Shakespearean Character Spotlight: the Cream-Faced Loon

Today's Shakespearean Character Spotlight is one of my favorite bit-parts in the canon. 

I've previously said that the role I would most like to play is Margaret of Anjou, but in all honesty I think it might be the cream-faced loon. I mean, let's be honest, I'm not nearly a good enough actor to do justice to Margaret, but I might just be able to handle the cream-faced loon. Plus, as a Gosling, I already have the goose look.

Have a great weekend! If you want some holiday cheer, check out my Shakespeare Advent Event posts on Tumblr. 

Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Servant

Aha! At last, my first truly and totally insignificant Shakespearean Character Spotlight! Let's meet Servant!

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Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

I started doing these Shakespearean Character Spotlights to cut down my workload. "It'll be easy," I thought. "I'll just randomly pick a character and give people a quick overview of him or her! I won't have to think up jokes or spend a lot of time on it!" I mean, how much time does it really take to profile Third Servant or Soldier?

And then what happens? My random number generator gives me this guy. He's in four plays. Four plays. It's not fair.

The historical Humphrey was a much more troubling person, prone to idiotic warmongering, alienating people and generally being a self-serving prick. But the image that got handed down was of Good Duke Humphrey, and so here we have him. 

In other news, I named a papier-mâché spider after Humphrey. He sits on my computer monitor at work and has a tiny top-hat made from a Post-It note. I was going to call him Richard, after the famous bottled spider, but thought that was too obvious, so I cast around for another Duke of Gloucester and settled on Humphrey. It's a very nice name, Humphrey.

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Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Jessica

I've seen three productions of The Merchant of Venice, but still don't feel that familiar with the play. Jessica seems to be to be one of those parts that is criminally underwritten. She has an immense impact on the play, and possibly is the root of Shylock's insane decision to claim his pound of flesh, but when you actually look at her speeches you find yourself wanting to know more. It's one of those parts that really needs an actor who can fill in the gaps in the text.(Shout-out to Sara Farb of the Stratford Festival, who was a remarkably poignant Jessica in their 2013 production.)

But regardless of how poignant the Jessica... trading your dead mother's ring for a monkey? That's just cruel, girl. 

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Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Jamy

Our Shakespearean Character Spotlight of the day falls upon a very notable solider serving in the English army under Henry V. But he's not English. Ooooooh no. Most definitely not English. 

I must admit that I love the regional captains. They are never more stereotypically depicted than in the Laurence Olivier film adaptation of Henry V, where, quite apart from their ludicrously broad accents, each of them also has their nation's symbol (rose, leek, thistle and shamrock) emblazoned on their shirt, in case we ever got confused as to who was who. Politically correct? Not in the least, but then that's never stopped Shakespeare before.

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