Rather than selecting a “Word from Today” I am featuring this time “words” from the Today programme. In fact many bright and shiny words, held captive within a “poem”. Which considering the subject is a very fitting choice of words. Yesterday, on the 3rd February, the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, featured Adam Long, a founder member of The reduced Shakespeare company. They had asked him “to refashion the end of Shakespeare’s play” Richard III with one of their trademark classically concise interpretations. They didn’t fail in their mission to transport us seamlessly and with fascination from his birth to the present day. And all in just over 2 minutes: simply brilliant.
It hopefully will feature in the shows podcasts, however in the interim it seems churlish not to make a written record of this excellent piece of wit and wisdom. So in homage to Richard III here is Adam’s piece transcribed in full.
“Here’s the Greatest Story you ever heard about a King named Richard the Third,
An ugly hunchback with stature diminished rudely stamped, deformed and unfinished.
Started out as a prince who was almost unknown, not even hardly in line for the throne.
And a big-headed brother made poor Richard “glummer”, turning discontented winter into glorious summer.
Little Richard was bitter, and fuming and steaming the poisonous hunchback was plotting and scheming, and seething and… ready to pop his cork!
He would steal the throne from that son of York, and so in pursuit of satisfaction
Richard he put his murderous plot into action.
Sent Clarence to the Tower quite easily with a misunderstanding over the letter “G.”
Then he wooed Lady Anne, Warwick’s youngest daughter though he killed her husband and her father.
Two murderers carried out Richard’s wishes, killed Clarence who dreamed of jewels, skulls, pearls and fishes.
The crown was so close he could reach out and pluck it.
Then old king Edward the Fourth kicked the bucket,
and soon poor Edward the Fifth was dead, that sneaky old Richard just lopped of his head.
He beheaded Lord Rivers, Sir Thomas, Lord Grey. Heads were flying every which way.
He killed Lord Hastings, I forgot to mention, when Hastings objected to his ascension.
Then they made Richard King! He was feeling groovy, it was worse than a Quentin movie,
he was killing children killing all day! Lord Buckingham fled but got killed anyway
Someone had to stop that hellion, so Richmond invaded; he led the rebellion.
With his shining armour and his battle cry some ghost told Richard despair and die.
Richard fought like a fiend in the face of that force, and he called for a horse.
His kingdom for a horse. But Richmond was mighty and killed Richard III, and that is the fate of all tyrants you see.
Richard lost his crown, his throne and his jester and wound up buried in a car park in Leicester.
Thus, Richard his “winter of discontent” buried beneath three feet of cement.
© The Reduced Shakespeare Company / broadcast Radio 4 Today 4th February 2013
For the want of a Nail … more on Richard III and the link to Chris Huhne