Risjaar (Richard) is repulsive. He was born premature, unfinished. He is deformed, limps and is hideously ugly. During the Wars of the Roses, which suddenly broke out after the death of Henry V, Risjaar fought with all his might for his family, alongside his brother Edwaar (Edward). Edwaar is now the king, as a result of several brutal political assassinations devised by his crippled brother. However, the end of the war does not bring Risjaar the peace he has desired for so long.
Tis now that the winter of our discontent
has turned 360 degrees
and become a hot sweaty summer
through this sun of York
my brother Edwaar
or Eddy for short.
And all the thunder clouds that shook our roof
have drowned in the black and salty ocean
We decorate ourselves today with wordless medals,
Our guns lie peacefully on our bedside tables.
The call to war has been replaced by the gangnam style
and our GI Joes dance like bloody Travolta
around the disco pole
The war is over
Our combat boots have been hung up
all the mud wiped clean,
and gleaming with black polish
And the big bad boys
capering in black patent leather shoes
like mad, whore and belch
stupidly, following their pricks
There is no peace of mind for Risjaar. His distaste for humanity, to which he will never really belong, is too deeply rooted. On the contrary, something has been born, something fuelled. An insight. A craving, a callous and ambitious hunger. An opportunity to rise above himself: ‘If you are looking for a bastard I will gladly play the part.’
More about Richard III
Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s early plays, first performed around 1593. Even at such a young age – about 28 –, Shakespeare created one of the most memorable monsters in literature. In the interim, Richard III has lost none of its lustre and appeal. Part of what makes Richard so attractive as a character is his free and unabashed, cheerfully displayed amorality. Shamelessly inhuman opinions have never sounded so palatable.
But the play is more than a character sketch of a psychopath in the making. It is first and foremost a portrait of an elite, a small group of rulers that has reduced politics to a game, a game of chess played out in antechambers and corridors. Sidelined by mutual strife and ambition, this constitutes the ideal breeding ground for the wiliest, the smartest, the most eloquent and the most ruthless among them to grow into a perverse dictator. Power as the objective. But what happens to that power once it is acquired?