Richard III Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Shakespeare’s Richard III is the embodiment of a man with a chip on his shoulder, a hunchbacked aristocrat who feels “cheated” of the joys of living by his “deformity.” Fancying himself denied the pleasurable pursuit of love, he declares that he is “therefore . . . determined to prove a villain.” But unlike the average “incel” cowering behind a sock puppet on Reddit, he is also a Plantagenet of the House of York, with more than the average number of weapons and warriors to hand. Ruthless Richard is unafraid of things that would make the Thane of Cawdor quake. Blood is nothing; power is all. Lock up your children.

In Eclectic Full Contact Theatre’s production, directed by Natividad Uehara, Richard (Andrew Pond) is just a garden-variety ass in a bar—a karaoke bar with rose-themed decor where satin-clad souses sidle up to a mike that seems to lay the curse of crooning flat. One song that becomes a refrain in this production is literally about a “bowl of crap.” “I’m so full of crap,” belt two singers, one before and one after intermission. What this has to do with Richard, it is difficult to know, and what motivates the man besides his arrogance is bludgeoned out of this rendition, where everyone emotes by shouting and no one seems to have read the words coming out of their mouths before.

Though Buckingham is Buckingham and Gloucester is Gloucester, toward the end, Richard is declared the “King of Chicago.” Why?   v