by William Shakespeare.
Globe Theatre 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 13 October 2012.
Runs 2hr 55min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 July.
Performance and production with a powerful grip.
What’s distinctive about this production is that, beneath surface historicism (all-male cast, though with adult males rather than youths playing women), costume, music etc, it invokes the spirit of the Elizabethan playhouse, the sense of adventure and visceral enjoyment among a varied audience, many of whom might have been there wagering on bear-baiting a few years before.
Partly this is down to Mark Rylance’s Richard III. More plotter than outright tyrant, he moves towards the realisation that in achieving his ambitions he is creating a new freedom for himself. It starts with the opening speech, after he’s almost sidled on stage – there’s something of the Arturo Ui about his shambling, murmuring self, exploding into performances with an energy which brings success that amazes even himself (Brecht’s Hitlerian gangster is partly based in Shakespeare’s Richard).
At the start he gives a woman in the audience a flower, then lets out a raucous laugh of triumph and amazement. Rylance’s Richard is an actor through and through and it’s easy to imagine early audiences being amazed at the power of a leading actor, a Richard Burbage, to take and transmute the power and structure of language as Rylance does here. This Richard muses aloud, sharing his self-obsessed enthusiasm, but always in charge.
Rylance reshapes lines and sentences without losing their central pulse. The sense of improvisation this can give fits director Tim Carroll’s Factory-fed production. If not full-Factory theatre fashion, with performances remade nightly, it’s hard, having seen their Hamlet and Odyssey in Oxford, not to sense rehearsals encouraging actors’ alertness to the moment in performance, something else that might have struck Elizabethans watching history in front of them in the new mode of theatre, life and pretence balancing differently in the mind.
Production and central performance catch the audience in their flow, right to the end where the rather naff appearance of Richard’s victims as speaking Ghosts done up in winding sheets, like wrapped vegetables, is superseded as they reappear silently in their own costumes, disturbing the final combat with Richmond, at first observing unassertively, finally guiding Richard toward Richmond’s sword.
Queen Elizabeth: Samuel Barnett.
Clarence/Lord Mayor: Liam Brennan.
Hastings/Tyrell: Paul Chahidi.
1st Murderer/Ratcliff: John Paul Connelly.
Scrivener/Rivers/Blunt: Ian Drysdale.
Lady Anne/ Grey: Johnny Flynn.
Duchess of York/Richmond: James Garnon.
Brakenbury/Catesby: Peter Hamilton Dyer.
King Edard IV/Stanley: Colin Hurley.
Duke of Buckingham: Roger Lloyd Pack.
Richard of Gloucester: Mark Rylance.
2nd Murderer/Messenger: Jethro Skinner.
Dorset/Bishop of Ely: Ben Thompson.
Edward, Prince of Wales: Austin Moulton/Shanu Hazzan.
Richard, Duke of York: Lorenzo Allchurch/Dylan Standen.
Director: Tim Carroll.
Designer: Jenny Tiramani.
Composer: Claire van Kampen.
Musical Director: Phil Hopkins.
Choreographer: Sian Williams.
Voice: James Oxley.
Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Movement: Glynn Macdonald.
Text work: Giles Block.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Reuben Grove.
Assistant choreographer: Chloe Stephens.
Assistant text: Ng Choon Ping.
Richard III will be playing in repertory with Twelfth Night from Shakespeare’s Globe at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7ES 2 November-3 February 2013. Tickets: 0844 412 4658.