A literary investigation, with apologies to my high school English teachers
Leicester City’s new manager is named Shakespeare, and as you would expect soccer scribes are proving pathologically incapable of resisting such low-hanging fruit. “Like his famous namesake, English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, Leicester City’s manager Craig Shakespeare is hoping he can add a few blockbuster dramas to his own story,” trumpeted a recent Associated Press story. For starters, describing Hamlet as a “blockbuster drama” is plenty ahistorical. But the AP story does raise the interesting question of just how much Craig Shakespeare has in common with The Bard’s work.
Craig, like another Shakespearean character, replaced a revered and powerful leader during the ides of march. [Okay, technically Ranieri was gone before then, but Craig Shakespeare’s rise to prominence really dates to this week’s win over Sevilla.] Et tu, Craig Shakespeare?
The Bard, as you well know, had a fondness for actors. So too does our Craig. Here, for your consideration, is what he has to say about Jamie Vardy:
Jamie’s not a cheat and never has been, never will be. I think Jamie responded well to the comment and we have to put it to bed. The game has gone, the referee made his decision and we have to move on.
If that isn’t defending stage performers, nothing is.
If Leicester’s season were a Shakespearean play, which one would it be? There’s definitely good reason to argue for Winter’s Tale insofar as nothing that happened in the fall is of interest to anyone. My pick, however, goes to Pericles, Prince of Tyre because it’s a generally unimpressive product only rendered interesting by Shakespeare’s involvement. The same could very much be said of this title defense.
Here’s another thing worth noting about Pericles, Prince of Tyre: It was, in all likelihood, only partially written by William Shakespeare. This is not the classic “did Shakespeare write any of his plays” debate. Rather, many scholars argue that there is a substantial change in results after the first two acts where The Bard took over. That, one must note, neatly parallels Craig Shakespeare’s arrival at Leicester.
But, speaking of those conspiracies about Shakespeare not writing his own work, they could just as easily be levied at Craig for his work at Leicester. Does that make Claudio Ranieri a modern day Sir Francis Bacon? Well, he did dub himself “The Sausageman” last year, and that’s plenty meaty.
Craig Shakespeare is the second coming of William Shakespeare. Of that there can be no doubt. As you were.