On watching Richard II

My head is full of poetry. Exquisite verse. Unheard, unmarked for more than 20 years, words spring fresh from the vault of my memory and my lips mouth out their sounds.

Rich verse, dense with meaning. Significance heightened by unfamiliar form. I dive into the poetry. Sense comes without my seeking, and I am transported to the court of a medieval king.

A capricious man who changes sentence on his subjects on a whim. A powerful creature who demands obeisance to his swagger. Pandered by the fawning fashions of youth. Distrusted by the old guard. Prey to his own weakness. Mistaken. Misled. A man of metaphor, who delights in glorious wordplay. Politician. Popstar. Poet.

This is but a show. The mirror of the thing. Distorted in its passage through pen, print and performance. And yet as true as when it was first conceived. Connecting beyond the boundaries of people, politics, geography. Beyond the great mass and shift of time itself.

Because it still speaks to what it means to be human. To be at the centre of one’s own little kingdom. To seek comfort and expect loyalty from friends. To make mistakes and regret them. To doubt oneself. To be in turn, fortune’s favoured then fooled.

Here’s but a player; a mask of a man. And yet, with a word… no, less than words… with a look, with a shrug he stops my thought and strikes my breath. A superhuman able to suspend time; inhabit another’s mind; give voice to the voiceless; give body to those long worm-food. Make ideas corporeal and prick tender tears from the heart of this silent watcher in the darkness.