Richard III – February 2007

6/10

By: William Shakespeare

Directed by: Michael Boyd

Venue: Courtyard Theatre

Date: Saturday 10th February 2007

Coming at the end of a long day’s play watching, it’s not too surprising that I felt a bit overdone by the end of the evening. I did enjoy this production, however, although my mind wasn’t as sharp as it might have been.

I don’t need to go through the story for this one. There were a few edits that I noticed, specifically the reference to time when Buckingham is asking Richard for his promised reward. On the whole, though, this seemed a fairly complete reading, and carried on where the Henry VIs had left off.

This play is much more about the political manoeuvring between the various factions and Richard’s manipulation of everyone, with the battle being saved for the final scenes. As a result, it seemed calmer than the prequels, though there’s still a lot of action. Richard does bustle about in his efforts to get the throne, and Jonathan Slinger reflected that in his performance. It’s always interesting to see how much Richard is in command and how much he’s winging it. Here I would say he’s more of a brash gambler, making his play and putting heart and soul into it. If it doesn’t come off, too bad, but he’ll do everything he can to make it happen.

The wooing of Anne was successful, as usual, but I wasn’t fully convinced he’d pulled it off. Richard’s manner rarely changed; he was much the same throughout the play, so there was less light and shade than I’m used to (or should that be shade and darkness). I felt the humour was being worked at a little too hard at times, though it was all still enjoyable. The build up to this play through the previous two was excellent, and so his character was already developed from the off.

Mad Margaret, played by Katy Stephens, was the best I’ve seen, all fire and venom. Her character had become more bitter through her experiences, and she could still talk. Which is just as well, because that’s what her character’s there for – to tell all the others just how bad things are, how much worse they’re going to get, and how much she hates them all.

For this play, they were using modern weapons and we heard helicopters overhead. It can be a little awkward doing this when there are so many references to swords, but I felt they handled it very well. The scene where Richard is pretending to the Mayor of London that he’s under attack was staged with him and Buckingham besieged behind an overturned table, looking like there was a house to house gun battle raging. They convinced the Mayor enough to make him nervous too, although as he probably grasped something of the political situation he was getting involved in, he’d have been nervous anyway.

That’s all I can remember now, after a long gap. I made a cryptic note about the murders and the execution of the second murderer, but that will have to wait till we see them again next February. Hopefully it will all make sense then. I also remember that the ghosts before the battle were well done, but don’t recall the detail.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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