Richard III William Shakespeare. Till 15 09

Richard III: William Shakespeare
RSC, The Swan: Stratford Upon Avon
Runs, 3h 15m, one interval, till 15 September
Review: Alexander Ray, 18 04 12

Mis-shapen production
There is no doubt there is something comic about the character Richard III, his wickedness and wit are full of dark charm. There is little doubt, too, that, in the machinations of the play, in the murders and scheming, the animalistic behaviour among the ruling elite, there is a comic irony. The play, Richard III, is, then, a play of tension – the vile scheming and actions pulls against the comic irony. What the play is not (and this is what director Roxana Silbert goes for) is a slap-stick knock-about vaudeville.

Ladling the comedy across the surface of the play leaves the action nowhere to go. There are cheap laughs aplenty (if that’s what you want) but there is no depth, no narrative drive, no thrilling excavation of the play. And no amount of helter-skelter rushing around nor constant shouting makes up for the void at the centre. It just seems all very long.

Pity, because there are some fine actors in the company. Among them Jonjo O’Neill; O’Neill can be riveting – his raw emotional energy drawing your attention to him. But as Richard he plays all in one dimension, often becoming cheap. His voice is not bearing the strain well, either; vocal tiredness is clear to hear towards the end of the evening.

Paola Dionisotti makes an outstanding Margaret; wild and passionate, and dignified despite an awful outfit she has to wear. (Some of Ti Green’s costume designs are bizarre beyond belief.)

I hope Silbert refinds her form soon; Dunsinaine (seen at the Swan) was marvellous, but this Richard has similar problems to Silbert’s production of Measure – full of (what look like) spur-of-the-moment ideas that fail to add up to anything worthwhile.

Duchess of York: Sandra Duncan
Edward IV: Mark Jax
George, Duke of Clarence: Edmund Kingsley
Richard, Duke of Gloucester: Jonjo O’Neill
Elizabeth Woodville: Siobhan Redmond
Lord Rivers: Jim Kitson
Lord Grey: Iain Batchelor
Marquis of Dorset: Simon Coombes
Elizabeth of York: Natalie Klamar
Prince Edward: Lynton Appleton / Daniel Bainbridge
Richard, Duke of York: George David / Hal Hewetson
Clarence’s Son: Alexander Cottriall / Alfie Jones
Clarence’s Daughter: Aria Barry / Ellie Coldicutt
Duke of Buckingham: Brian Ferguson
Lord hastings: John Stahl
Mistress Shore: Susie Trayling
Sir Ratcliffe: Neal Barry
Sir Catesby: Alex Waldmann
Bishop of Ely: Mark Jax
James Tyrrel: Oscar Pearce
Archbishop of York: Edmund Kingsley
Brackenbury: Mark Holgate
Mayor: Edmund Kingsley
Murderer: Joshua Jenkins
Scrivener: Jim Kitson
Margaret: Paola Dionisotti
Lady Anne: Pippa Nicon
Earl of Derby: David Fielder
Earl of Richmond: Iain Batchelor
Sir Blount: Joshua Jenkins
Sir Christopher: Edmund Kingsley

Directed by: Roxana Silbert
Designed by: Ti Green
Lighting Designed by: Rick Fisher
Music and Sound by: Nick Powell
Movement by: Ayse Tashkiran
Fights by: Terry King
Company Text and Voice Work by: Stephen Kemble
Assistant Director: Luke Kernaghan
Music Director: John Woolf
Casting by: Hannah Miller, Janine Snape
Children’s Casting by: Barbara Roberts

2012-04-22 21:26:04

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