Saturday, September 10, 2011
Jim Meskimen performs Clarence's speech from William Shakespeare's Richard III as a number of different celebrities. In case you're not up on your Shakespeare, this is a history play from the First Folio, written about 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise and brief reign of Richard III of England.
In this scene, Richard has just ordered two murderers to kill his brother Clarence in the tower. Clarence, unaware, relates a strange dream to his keeper. He describes falling from an imaginary ship and seeing skeletons of thousands of men "that fishes gnawed upon," and "wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, inestimable stones, unvalued jewels" all "scatterd in the bottom of the sea."
As we all know, listening to someone describing a dream can be dead dull, but Clarence has the good fortune of speaking the rich, colorful words of the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist, William Shakespeare. Along with his other accomplishments, Shakespeare provided Jim Meskimen with a showcase for his spot-on impressions, and Meskimen, in turn, perhaps unintentionally, shows us how many different ways Clarence's speech could be interpreted by a player, albeit always trippingly on the tongue.