EXPERTS from the University of Leicester have identified a skeleton found underneath a parking lot as that of King Richard Plantagenet, depicted as a scheming child-killer by William Shakespeare in his 1592 play, The Tragedy of Richard the Third.
In related news, the anxious skeleton of William Shakespeare has been found behind the dumpster at a Highgate Tesco. “I totally don’t want that guy coming after me,” said the playwright’s bones. “This calls for a rewrite.”
A New Play by the Late William Shakespeare
ACT 1. SCENE 1.
Enter RICHARD THE THIRD’S SKELETON, solo.
Rich.: Now is the winter of my dis’nterment,
From underneath this foul Leicester car park
With all the insults level’d at my name
Rais’d alongside my cold and rotten bones.
They call’d me murderer, and, worse, ‘deform’d,’
‘Rudely stamp’d,’ ‘cheated of feature,’ so plain
That rank mongrels were wont to bark at me
And ripe nymphs hurl themselves off battlements.
Henry Tudor made sure my reign was brief.
I was the last king to die for England
My bravery and goodness fully lost
To history. Thanks, Shakespeare’s poison pen!
RICHARD’S SKELETON sobs like a pre-schooler denied a stick of gum.
Enter WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S SKELETON, bowing clumsily.
Shak.: Your grace, have you need of damage control?
Rich.: (sniffling) You! Have you not tormented me enough?
Without your ‘tragedy’ the world might know
I did good works. I danced full out at balls
And was gentle on my delicate whites.
I was the ultimate Plantagenet!
Shak.: (cringes) My Lord, t’was just my need for villainy!
A ‘tragedy’ was requested – and you fit.
Rich.: Lucky for you these couplets do not rhyme.
Otherwise, I would call you a piece of …
Shak.: (hastily) How’d you like a gig on Oprah, my lord?
A two- or three-hour special Thursday night?
You’d get a chance to lay out all your claims
Put the lie to centuries of untruths.
Shak.: (wheedling) You’d crush Lance Armstrong’s ratings in hour one!
Rich.: (considering) Could we tell her ‘The Tower’s out of bounds?
Not to mention the princes and their fates?’
Shak.: (reconsidering) P’raps you’d be better off on Jay Leno.
His questions are as soft as a sponge cake.
Rich.: (worried) Is this bold new world best not attempted?
What think you, o most Bardly bag of bones?
Shak.: My lord, this world is one made just for you
A place where fame and brashness rule the roost
Virtue and modesty no longer count
Shady vulgarians get the last laugh.
(as an aside) ‘Winning!’
’Tis why I choose to switch careers, my lord.
Why waste my gift on poetry and plays
When P.R will so deftly pay my bills?
My first client: the outcast, Richard Three.
Rich.: So you propose to manage me, sirrah?
To make a new persona from my dust?
You’ll throw out all my sins like so much trash
And delete my reputed lust for pow’r?
Shak.: (bridling) Do you think me unequal to the task?
I’m only the most famous in my field
A symbol of the power of the pen
I’ve turn’d a teen love story into gold!
I’m quoted round the world in ev’ry hour
But by all means, choose Edelman New York.
SHAKESPEARE’S SKELETON exits in a snit.
Rich.: (musing) Shakespeare has never been my biggest fan
Why would he suddenly give me the eye?
Mayhaps he thinks I am his catapult
To riches and a night with Beyonce!
Yet I do need public relations help
Unless I crave cremation in a trice.
Lance Armstrong still lives large in Hawaii --
I could do worse than a mea culpa.
But Leno? How sad. Better Letterman.
He’ll skirt the little princes’ vaunted deaths
And joke ‘You’re not THAT ugly, ha ha ha.’
I’d much prefer that to Oprah’s grim stare.
SHAKESPEARE’S SKELETON lopes in, dribbling a basketball.
Shak.: Yo! What up?
Rich.: Good grief! And you want to be in P.R.?
Shak.: Black culture’s where it’s at, my homely bro!
Rich.: How d’you know? You’ve been dead 400 years.
Shak.: I say Oprah’s your best re-branding bet.
Letterman’s for the old, and the uncool.
Oprah’ll win you favour with the ladies.
That’s never a bad move -- ask any king.
Rich.: (acidly) Won’t she be too accusatory?
Won’t she urge me to be my ‘bestest’ self?
Shak.: Sure. You can agree and then shake it off.
There’s no requirement to follow through.
You will have to watch out for TMZ
They’ll dog your bone-prints everywhere you go.
They’re cockroaches – what can you do, my lord?
Rich.: D’you promise me a pool, a car, a wench?
I’ve done without since 1485.
Not much use my now being disinter’d
If life’s as tedious as a car-park.
Shak.: Yeah, yeah, King R., you’ll get all the best perks.
Impress Oprah and the world’s thine oyster.
I’ll get right on it, you can rest assured.
(cunning) And now there’s the small matter of my fee….
Rich.: (alarmed) A hearse! A hearse! My kingdom for a hearse!
RICHARD’S SKELETON rides off with SHAKESPEARE’S SKELETON in hot pursuit.