I’m seeing Richard III at the Brooklyn Academy of Music tomorrow. Kevin Spacey plays the crippled, humpback King in a leg brace. Clever boy.
Being a man of modest education and having, at best, a tenuous grasp of Shakespeare, I began my preparatory work last week. If I don’t conduct my due diligence I’ll be lost by the end of Act I, Scene II. Many plot points hinge on events that occurred in previous plays.
I poured over my copy of Cliffs Notes, saw Spacey discuss the production on Charlie Rose, read every available page on Wikipedia and watched Pacino’s Looking for Richard. I find it all a bit hard to grasp, although I felt somewhat vindicated by the Pacino documentary. Early on, while trying to summarize the story, he loses his train of thought and says it’s no wonder people are put off by it.
The cast of characters is a confusing jumble of same-names. There’s Richard of Gloucester, Richard, Duke of York, Richard Ratcliffe, Richmond, who becomes Henry VII and Richard Grey, son to the Queen. But which Queen? There’s Elizabeth, Queen to Edward IV and Elizabeth, Queen to Henry VI. And don’t forget Princess Elizabeth of York. In addition to Edward IV, there’s Edward, Earl of Warwick, Edward, Prince of Wales (who becomes Edward V) and Edmund, the Mayor of London. There’s Henry VI, Henry VII, Henry, the Duke of Buckingham and Henry, Sheriff of Wiltshire. There’s a Thomas who is a Cardinal, a Thomas who is an Archbishop, a Thomas who is Earl of Surrey, a Thomas who is Earl of Derby, a Thomas who is Marquis of Dorset and a Thomas who is a soldier.
Do you know what? Fuck it. I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going.