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Review of Antic Disposition’s Richard III at London’s Temple Church

Antic Disposition's Richard III - courtesy of Scott Rylander
Antic Disposition’s Richard III – courtesy of Scott Rylander

Temple Church is amazing, dating from the late 12th Century and hidden away in the oasis of The Temple in the centre of London. Obviously, if you stage a play in a venue like this the building will be the main star and the set and seating plan will be severely restricted. Consequently, the set is minimal, two thrones a red carpet and the warrior Queen Margaret already on stage grieving over the coffin of her son, Edward Prince of Wales.

It is somewhat surprising, in this setting, when with a loud shout the rest of the cast appear in modern dress. The programme notes describe Richard 111 as a darkly comic masterpiece, for me it was often not dark enough with Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Toby Manley) and the Duke of Buckingham (Joe Eyre) coming across more like pantomime villains than Shakespearean ones. The female members of the cast, especially Jess Nesling as Queen Elizabeth and Bryony Tebbutt as Lady Anne are mesmerising in their main roles and I suppose that with such a small cast some doubling up is inevitable. However, I would have preferred to have seen the young Princes played by boys. I was enjoying William de Coverly’s performance as George Duke of Clarence so much that it was a disappointment to
me when he was murdered so early on in the play. It was then somewhat of a relief that he reappears as a ghost and also as James Tyrell later on in the play. William was as convincing as the villainous Tyrell as he was as the wronged Duke of Clarence. Alex Hooper is also superb in both his roles but particularly when making the rousing speech of the Earl of Richmond before the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Ben Horslen and John Risebero have included some inspired touches in this production. I absolutely loved the way the ghosts of all his victims took part in Richards’s death scene, holding him back to help the Earl of Richmond win their battle. The Mayor of London amusingly has a scruffy blond wig and a blue rosette, what would Sadiq Khan think of that I wonder?

This production is an interesting mix of ancient and modern, Ben Horslen says in his welcome notes ‘that the destructive impulses of a single person can be enough to threaten an entire nation has seldom been clearer’. Food for thought indeed.

4 stars

Review by Sally Knipe

The Wars of the Roses are over and King Edward IV rules England. But his brother, Richard, is in no mood to celebrate. With murder, deceit and dark humour as his weapons, Richard overcomes friends and foes alike to seize the crown. But as the body count rises, he soon learns that a throne founded on blood offers little security.

Antic Disposition stage a thrilling new production of Shakespeare’s darkly comic drama in London’s ancient Temple Church for a run of fifteen special performances.

Located in the secluded and tranquil heart of London’s legal quarter between Fleet Street and the River Thames, Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th-century and is one of London’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Known for its unusual circular design, Temple Church recently gained fame as a key location in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code.

The production arrives in London following a tour of six historic UK cathedrals, including Leicester Cathedral, where King Richard was recently reinterred following his discovery buried under a nearby car park.

Richard III Toby Manley
Hastings Chris Courtenay
King Edward IV Charles Neville
Clarence/Sir James Tyrell William de Coverly
Rivers/Richmond Alex Hooper
Buckingham Joe Eyre
Lady Anne Bryony Tebbutt
Duchess of York Jill Stanford
Queen Margaret Louise Templeton
Queen Elizabeth Jess Nesling
Sir William Catesby Robert Nairne

Directors: Ben Horslen and John Risebero
Designer: John Risebero
Lighting Designer: Tom Boucher
Composer: James Burrows
Fight Director: Bethan Clark of Rc-Annie Ltd.
Stage Manager: Damien Stanton
Technical Stage Manager: Angus Chisholm

Temple Church
Temple, London, EC4Y 7BB
22nd August to 9th September 2017 – Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm


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