"Richard III", by William Shakespeare
Decades of civil war are ended; the bleeding kingdom is once again at peace. But the deadly Duke of Gloucester’s personal ambition remains unfulfilled. He has his eye on the throne presently occupied by his older brother, and will unleash all his cunning and ruthlessness to secure the prize. Not for him the easy world of goodwill and fellowship; that’s not his style.
In Richard, Duke of Gloucester and later king, Shakespeare has created one of the great stage villains, naked in his hostility to almost everyone. But like all embodiments of evil, he fascinates and appals us at the same time. His delight in his own misdeeds produces a play that is darkly comic, as well as a tragedy of human over-stepping. No surprise that many of the world’s greatest actors still line up to play him.
In this carefully edited version, the focus will be on the contemporary relevance of both story and setting. Its world of ambition and political conniving, of intrigue and egotism, will be immediately recognisable. Shakespeare knew the political world to the depths of its black soul. Richard doesn’t “break bad”, he already is. Think House of Cards, and you’re thinking Richard III.