Johnson used to at least be able to give a passable imitation of being Boris Johnson. Now he can’t even manage that. The gags and the mannerisms that used to be his calling card, now just fall flat. A one-trick pony whose one trick everyone knows. The surface has been stripped bare to reveal a core of molten need. Someone who craves attention and fears he wouldn’t exist without it. Someone whose narcissism leaves him devoid of empathy. Incapable of either giving or receiving love.
Hamlet’s idea is to catch out his uncle Claudius, who has usurped the throne by killing Hamlet’s father. So the meta-theatrical prince devises a plan to have the murder acted out in front of the murderer: “guilty creatures sitting at a play”, he says, cannot tolerate it when their sins are portrayed to them by actors, and so they “proclaim their malefactions” — they are forced to confess. As expected, Claudius betrays himself through his outraged response to Hamlet’s play. He falls into the trap of mimesis, confusing the work of art for the real world, precisely because it aggravates his guilty conscience. Zuma and his allies, through their over-reaction to Murray’s art, are in fact acknowledging that there is some merit in its critique. Claudius calls off Hamlet’s play; Zuma wanted The Spear removed from the gallery; two “free radicals” pre-empted any court decision by defacing the painting. But although Zuma and his supporters have pretended to be offended by the artist, or may even have convinced themselves they are truly offended, like King Claudius they will soon privately admit: “O, my offence is rank — it smells to heaven!” – Chris Thurman in Business DayBACK TO TOP