The audience with which I saw the show on Wednesday night laughed heartily at his outrageousness in the early scenes, as this thoroughly modern medieval monarch played the fool to put corrupt, infighting, old-order politicians in their place (which would be the grave). Heâs ugly-sexy, with his fetishist accessories, including that obviously artificial hump. You can understand why the playâs (reduced) cast of women (Jenny KÃ¶nig and Eva Meckbach, with Robert Beyer in drag as the mad Margaret) respond to his erotic energy.
And, oh, the things he does to keep our attention â swinging from a cable like a hyperactive monkey, stripping down to the affrontive altogether, urinating in a triumphal arc, getting cozy with audience members as he roves the aisles, making fun of the projected supertitles that translate his German into English. He even raps like Tyler, the Creator. âThe devil doesnât wear Prada,â he snarls contemptuously, quoting from that recording artistâs âGoblin.â
That anachronistic moment comes late in this âRichard III,â which runs an uninterrupted two and a half hours. By then, you realize that its confiding, soliloquizing title character is not quite the amiable host you thought he was, and youâre most likely feeling guilty for having egged him on earlier.
Thatâs especially true after he encourages the audience to repeat â in full voice, again and again â an obscene question that Richard asks his chief collaborator, Buckingham (a serpentine…