Richard III by William Shakespeare: Everyman Theatre, 12-20 March 2010
By Stella Wilkie
I am fairly sure that Richard III is the play most hung about with labels, apocryphal stories, extreme opinions and prejudices more than any other of the Shakespeare folio – but I could be wrong. It is certainly a rite of passage for directors, one that Duncan Driver passes with credit. There may be a small hole here and there to pick at, but I had a good evening and was happy to emerge two hours and ten minutes later with a lot to think about and enjoy.
Driver has set the play in a corridor between two rows of seats – not ‘in-the-round’ or ‘in the square’, and for this play it works with great effect. The actors are dressed in white, modern dress, which provides a basis for jackets, hats, etc. Lucky Catesby has a smart white martial arts uniform, which near the close of the play suddenly becomes black. Duncan Ley, as Richard, wears the white pants and shirt, a naevus or scar on part of his face, and uses a stick and an apparently paralysed hand rammed into his pocket – an interesting change from the humpback etc.
Lighting, music and voice-overs are used with very effective timing (the Tudor radio was rather fun and non-intrusive). The cuts in the script (much welcomed by this audience member) contracted the story without sacrificing the poetry.
Performances were very good. Ley as Richard showed us the nuances , both endearing and repellent, of his character; the women – for once- had a ball and I enjoyed Hannah Ley as Anne, Helen Macfarlane as Elizabeth and, most of all Alice Ferguson as the old Queen Margaret , a lovely chilling performance. I also liked Adrian Flor, as Richmond. This is one of those difficult parts for actors, coming as it does in the last moments of the play, and I was impressed at how he made his presence and personality felt – his killing of Richard can get dangerously near farce, but Flor was totally believable.
I look forward to more from this company (still reeling from the miraculous ‘Musical of Musicals, The Musical’. Still to come, ‘The Laramie Project’ in May and ‘Kiss of the Spiderwoman’ in October .