After Hamlet, Richard III is the longest of Shakespeare’s plays, so it is usually abridged; characters are often removed entirely and scenes reworded to help the audience with context.
Zoé Ford has directed a cast of just ten actors and a script that has been significantly chopped and changed. Happily though, none of the key elements of this historical tragedy are lost and her interpretation provides the audience with a new visualisation of a classic play.
Judging by the costumes, the play takes place in a non-existent timeframe – clothes are slightly gothic, with elements of ancient Britain – and, as befits a play about the House of York, the cast sport Northern accents.
However, costumes and context are not what make a good Shakespeare performance – the language itself (when delivered properly) should always be what carries the play – and this cast deliver with passion, clarity and real feeling.
There are several weaker performances, but the main characters are engaging and you feel as though they could recite Shakespeare without costume or movement and still be performing.
Pip Gladwin (Buckingham) and David McLaughlin (Richard III) were born for Shakespeare and are extraordinarily believable as their characters. Gladwin captures the emotional turmoil of Richard’s loyal cousin who gives everything, but eventually deserts and defects to the future Henry VII.
McLaughlin meanwhile gives a fantastic performance as the villainous Richard, delivering the famous speeches with true feeling and managing to speak the lines ‘a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ without them sounding tired or overdone.
Although in the script most of the (many) deaths take place offstage, Ford has chosen to add to the brutality by having the executions onstage. In fact this production is quite bloody and violent, but this only emphasises how Richard’s character has been interpreted. As if to enhance his violent streak, his wife Anne (Helen Reuben) is not poisoned, but strangled.
Those seeking traditional Shakespeare might be concerned about a new interpretation of Richard III, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and works surprisingly well.
Review by Michaela Clement Hayes
Hiraeth Artistic Productions presents Richard III
And thus I clothe my naked villainy … And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.
Historical fact meets dystopian nightmare in Hiraeth Artistic Productions fast-paced and visceral adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Surrounded by the dilapidated remains of England’s once grand court, Richard, Duke of Gloucester has high hopes for the crown.
After murdering the King, Richard and Clarence aid their older brother Edward on to the throne and thus their family, the House of York into power.
However it isn’t long before Richard’s jealousy and his own unshakable ambition set into motion a rampant trail of backstabbing, plotting and slaughter.
Richard will be king … even if he has to kill for it.From the producers of the critically acclaimed, skinhead inspired Titus Andronicus, comes an engaging and explosive adaptation of Shakespeare’s most infamous play.
4th February – 1st March 2014
Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm
Tuesdays: all tickets £10
Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes including a 15 minute interval
Please note: Strobe lights are used during the performance
Wed/Thurs/ Sun: £14/£12 concessions
Friday & Saturday: £16/£14 concessions
BOX OFFICE 020 8340 3488
Sunday 9th February 2014