by William Shakespeare.

St Paul’s Church Bedford Street Covent Garden WC2E 9ED To 25 July 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 3hr 10min One interval.

TICKETS: 07910 104062.
Review: William Russell 9 July.

Steps to the throne forcefully trodden in multi-taking production.
Daniel Winder’s staging of Shakespeare’s tragedy in the gardens of St Paul’s Church makes full use of the charming locations, although it is noticeable that things work best when the actors are performing on the steps in front of the church rather than promenading among the rosebushes. With the church’s massive black doors behind them the steps make a splendid stage.

There are only eight actors, six of whom have to double-up, triple-up, and perhaps more, and do so magnificently. One never feels the stage under-populated.

The star performance is given by David Hywel Baynes as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, sporting a magnificent hump back as the man who would be king by any means to hand, mostly foul. It is a sexy, sweaty piece of work, and he is also adept at involving the audience, inviting them to take part as a crowd, directing them where to go, with a nod and wink.

His wooing of the hapless Lady Anne – a touching performance by Anne-Marie Piazza – is conducted with just the right degree of menace and sexual innuendo. Time and again, as he prances threateningly round the place, one is reminded of Jack Nicholson chanting “Here’s Johnny” and wielding his axe in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

And this is the Richard Nicholson might have given had he been a Shakespearian actor. Mr Baynes may not be subtle, but he delivers a star performance.

Of the rest, Mark Hawkins does a remarkable triple act as a loathsome Catesby, the man who did Richard’s dirty work, an upright Richmond, and a superbly insane Queen Margaret for which he sports what looks like a dead sheep on his head. But everyone is up to the demands of playing more than one role.

Richard Duke of Gloucester: David Hywel Baynes.
King Edward V1/Lord Stanley: Sam Donnelly.
Queen Margaret/Sir William Catesby/Earl of Richmond: Mark Hawkins.
George Duke of Clarence/Duke of Buckingham: Nick Howard-Brown.
King Henry V1/Earl Rivers/Duchess of York: Dafydd Gwyn Howells.
Lord Hastings/Lord Mayor of London: Joel Mellinger.
Price Edward of Lancaster/Prince Edward of York/Lady Anne: Anne-Marie Piazza.
Queen Elizabeth: Laura Wickham.

Director: Daniel Winder.
Designer: Maria Koutsouna.
Lighting: Ben Polya.
Sound: Filipe Gomes.
Costume: Christine Oliver.
Fight director: Roger Bartlett.

2014-07-10 11:35:07

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