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Richard II at The Bread and Roses Theatre | Review

Open The Vault’s production of Richard IIOpen The Vault’s production of Richard II is commendably brief and succinct. Director Joshua Jewkes has done wonders with a tiny space and few props. His version of Richard II is refreshing and at 80 minutes straight through the pacing never flags. The plot is clearly presented and the political backstabbing is convincingly realised. On its terms, it works very well.

The appropriately named Joshua King is a stern and overbearing Richard. Joshua is on stage for most of the evening and does a fine job of delivering some of Shakespeare’s most tricky tongue twisters. Melanie Beckley (Henri Bolingbroke) delivered her lines with clarity, confidence and conviction. I thought she gave the standout performance of the evening. Lorna Reed as the Queen captured wonderfully the spoilt and selfish court life of a pampered monarch. This was epitomised by her absurd handheld green electric fan. But she showed real insight into the crestfallen Queen as she begs to be allowed to accompany Richard into French exile. And her look as she stood, wearing an overcoat, in the final scene was terrific. Just that touch wearing an overcoat was a powerful metaphor of loss and exile. Michaela Carberry was convincing as the Lord Marshall, as she stood tall and imperious, handcuffs hanging menacingly from her belt. The other prop that struck home for me was the wheelchair. As a symbol of John Of Gaunt’s sickness and defeat it was apt. It also gave a whole new emphasis to his name: Gaunt. He certainly looked it. Christian Warwicker showed what a fine actor he is as he switched effortlessly from the aristocratic PR speaking Thomas Mowbray to a Yorkshire accented nonchalant seen it all before Northumberland.

All in all a refreshingly confident and brisk version of Richard II. For those new to Shakespeare and especially those who would like a way into Richard II this production is highly recommended.

3 Star Review

Review by John O’Brien

Richard sits on the throne of England, yet he is unloved. His vanity and ego threaten to divide England into a civil war.
The first of Shakespeare’s Histories.
A story of power and plotting behind the scenes.
Who really rules the country?

Richard II: Joshua King
Henri Bolingbroke: Melanie Beckley
Duke of York: Hannah Victory
Amurele: Nathan Lister
Willoughby: Elena Clements
Thomas Mowbray/Northumberland: Christian Warwicker
Queen: Lorna Reed
Lord Marshall: Michaela Carberry
John of Gaunt/ Sir Stephen Scroop: Peter Hardingham
Green/Servant: Roisin Moore
Producers: Christian Warwicker and Joshua King

Open The Vault Productions presents
Richard II
by William Shakespeare – edited & adapted by Joshua Jewkes & Joshua King
Directed by Joshua Jewkes
Booking to 25th August 2018


  • John OBrien

    JOHN O’BRIEN born in London in 1960 is a born and bred Londoner. His mother was an illiterate Irish traveller. His early years were spent in Ladbroke Grove. He was born at number 40 Lancaster Road. In 1967 the family was rehoused in Hackney. He attended Brooke House School for Boys in Clapton, - as did Lord Sugar. He became head boy and was the first person in his family to make it to university, gaining a place at Goldsmiths College in 1978. He took a degree in Sociology and a PGCE . From 1982 until 1993 he taught at schools in Hackney and Richmond. In 1984-85 he attended Bristol University where he gained a Diploma in Social Administration. From 1985 until 1989 he studied part-time in the evenings for a degree in English Literature at Birkbeck College. He stayed on at Birkbeck from 1990-1992 to study for an MA in Modern English Literature. He left teaching in 1993 and has worked as a tutor, researcher, writer and tour guide. He leads bespoke guided tours on London’s history, art , architecture and culture. He has attended numerous courses at Oxford University - Exeter College, Rewley House & Kellogg College. In London, he attends courses at Gresham College, The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, The British Academy and The Royal Society. Read the latest London theatre reviews by all reviewers.

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