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R3 Spoilers: Warning!

No, seriously, actually, this isn’t about plot spoilers, but about production spoilers. Because it occurred to me that four Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu have already made plans to see the thing, and it’s possible that perhaps half-a-dozen more are contemplating it. Which y’all should be, if the logistics work out—I’m starting to get the feeling that this is going to be a good show. It’s early yet (two weeks from tonight!), but there are bits that are very good indeed. So if you can come to Greater Hartford on a weekend night in April (or late March), come. If you need details, let me know and I will email them to you.

And there are a few details of the production that will probably work better if you haven’t read too much about them beforehand. So I was going to refrain from writing about, oh, the really cool thing that we did the other night, because I don’t want to Ruin It for the folk who are coming to see.

Still, of the three dozen or so Gentle Readers, two thirds at least are simply unable to arrange a trip. Not going to happen, and I do understand. Frankly, I understand even if you could possibly make it to town and you don’t. I have missed my friends in shows this Winter just out of laziness and cheapness, and I’m OK with that in myself and others. And I believe that some of those GRs who are not coming (for whatever reason), are amongst those most interested in Shakespeare and theeyater. So. Rather than continuing to refrain, I think my plan is just to mark some of these notes as containing SPOILERS for the production.

SPOILERS

Really, not just warning you to avoid wagering on Richard in the final battle (I will give you 7-2 odds) but that as with any production, we have made some new choices and you will enjoy the show more if you don’t know what all of them are. So if you are even thinking about the possibility of coming and seeing the show, stop reading here. You can always come back in a month or two and tell me how it worked out for you.

OK?

Everybody good with this?

Ready for the production SPOILER? It’ll be a letdown now, I know, but still, it’s a bit I do like, if I say so myself.

Right, then. Act V, scene i: my death scene. We have discussed the scene before, and how it ends with my telling my executioner to covey me to the block of shame and the closing couplet. I haven’t talked about the beginning of the scene, where I list the dead:

Hastings, and Edward’s children, Rivers, Grey, Holy King Henry, and thy fair son Edward, Vaughan, and all that have miscarried By underhand corrupted foul injustice.

In the full text, Buckingham is addressing the shades of the dead, whose moody discontented souls are invited to mock him as he dies. We cut that bit of the address, as we have cut a lot of the supernatural elements of the show. So as I was preparing the scene, I was just listing them, in a sort of hysterical laughter: he knows he’s going to die, and now look at the people he has had killed for (it turns out) no benefit at all. A cosmic joke, and the panicky laughter as he faces his own addition to the list was, I must say, working for me.

And then I happened to sit in on the rehearsal for IV,i (in which Buckingham does not appear) and saw that Lady Anne responds to the summons of Lord Stanley that Come, madam, you must straight to Westminster, there to be crowned Richard’s royal queen. is stunned and panicky laughter, rising to hysteria as she contemplates the cosmic joke that her own curses redound on her head as the unhappy wife of the accursed Richard. And that was working very well, indeed, and was not only pathetic (in a good way) but a highlight on her basic instability (as opposed to the Duke of Buckingham, who is not inclined to regret and second-guessing). Only… if I respond the same way twenty minutes later, it makes me look dumb, and make the show work worse. So. Ah, well, what the hell. Back to the old proverbial, eh?

What to do, what to do. And then what comes to the rescue but my trusty notebook, and the rumination of the other day that I had a little list and could, in my own words, Cross them off, one after another. So, despite it making no real-world sense whatsoever, I determined that when I was caught and brought to execution, I would be clinging to that notebook of mine, and

[opens Notebook, glances at executioner, shows him page] Hastings [Rrrrrip!], and Edward’s children [Rrrrrip! Rrrrip!], Rivers [Rip!], Grey [Rip!], Holy King Henry[Rip!], and thy fair son Edward[Rip!], Vaughan[Rip!], and all [Rip!]that have miscarried [Rip!]By underhand [Rip!] corrupted [Rip!] foul [Rip!] injustice[Actually, by this point I have torn out the pages, torn the covers from each other and am surrounded by the fluttering shreds of my life].

A couple of things to note: first, of course, this is exactly the sort of thing that I love but don’t do well, what I have called physical inventiveness, coming up with bits of business that bring out something in the character and the text in a way that would not be present without the business. As such, I am really, really hoping it works. I have done it once, and it seems to work, but, you know, it is a bit over the top, and I can only justify it by doing it really well. A trifle daunting.

The other thing is that this business brought out Buckingham’s anger at his betrayal. Buckingham, of course, is a mix of emotions at this point (as is everyone at every point, but this is dramatically heightened, being, you know, in a play), and the text emphasizes his acknowledgement of the irony, his wittiness, as it were, over everything else. But of course he is also angry at Richard’s betrayal of him (I feel sure Buckingham never sees the raising of a rebel army as a betrayal on his part), and afraid of his immanent death and damnation. Regret? Sure. Defiance? All right. All of that. The question is which come to the front in the portrayal to make the better theater. And when, urged to by the list-shredding, I brought the anger to the front, it seemed to make the scene work better, and (I think) the play, as of all his emotions, the anger is the most Richard-directed, and the play is all about Richard.

And best of all, it brings the whole Buckingham’s-notebook thing to a satisfying conclusion. It’s a version of Tchekov’s law, right? If you show the audience a notebook in Act One, somebody has to tear it up before the final curtain.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.