Saturday, August 8, 2020



Bojana Kos  , Dene Kermond, Duncan Driver and Christopher Stollery in Rockspeare Richard lll  Photo by PassOut Media

Rockspeare  Richard lll, by William Shakespeare. 

From Live in Ya Lounge. Directed by Lexi Sekuless. Music composed and directed by Jay Cameron. Costumes by Fiona Victoria Hopkins.Lakespeare and Co. in association with Event Audio Visual Services and RAMADA Canberra. Where You Are Festival.  Streamed Live from the Mallee Pavilion EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra ) Until August 8. Bookings

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

As the saying goes, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. It is advice that Shakespeare would have agreed with in his history play about Richard lll. Readers of Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time and avid followers of findings resulting from the alleged discovery of the two princes’ bones and Richard’s skeleton under concrete in a Lancaster car park might question the authenticity of Shakespeare’s political thriller. But then Richard was a Plantagenet and Queen Elizabeth was descended from Henry Vll, a Lancastrian, and we know where Shakespeare’s loyalty lay. Lakespeare’s electrifying live streamed production of Richard lll from Live in Ya Lounge at EPIC  brings a chilling and thrilling stream-lined Rockspeare version production of Shakespeare’s Machiavellian inspired royal villain.

From the opening jig it is evident that Lakespeare’s Richard lll promises a pulsating version of the play, highlighted by Jay Cameron’s brilliantly inspired composition and costumed once again in Fiona Hopkins’s highly imaginative and creative costumes. Who would have thought to costumes Christopher Stollery's murderous Tyrell in a kilt, tweed jacket and a high hat? It is the kind of imaginative, experiemntal interpretation that characterizes the entire production. Bathed in rock concert lighting and choreographed with forceful imagination, the dance is fired with the spirit of the time. Wars and conflicts, intrigues and betrayal, murder and ruthless ambition lay open the drama in this engrossing online production. I confess that I longed to be in the Mallee Pavilion at EPIC, witnessing live this explosion of energy and feeling Cameron’s music course through my body. But this is the time of Covid, and as well as introducing the company to the viewer, it also effectively evokes the character of the drama and the Time.

Adele Querol as Buckingham
Director Lexi Sekuless has pared back Shakespeare’s drama, eliminating certain characters, such as the viperous Queen Margaret, distributing characters between the eight actors and gender switching, casting women as Buckingham (Adele Querol), Catesby (Bojana Kos) and Hastings (Heidi Silberman). We view gender through the prism of human behaviour and universal human truths. Action is at the core of Sekuless’s production, carefully selecting the scenes that drive the drama forward just as the music of a rock concert may thrust the energy of a concert towards its climactic moment. 
Lexi Sekuless as Anne. Dene Kermond as Richard lll.
What evolves is a series of highlights that will punctuate the story and illustrate Richard’s intuitive and guileful plots to seize the crown. Sekuless and her cast lead us deliberately and with purposeful clarity through the passage of Richard’s villainous intent. The wooing scene between Richard (Deane Kermond) and Anne (Lexi Sekuless), whose husband, slain by Richard, lies in state beside them, continues to leave one amazed by Richard’s power of persuasion or is it Anne’s only hope of survival to marry her loathed suitor. Duncan Driver  gives an effective performance as Richard’s naïve and trusting brother,  the Duke of Clarence. Richard’s devious amorality is skilfully played   in the scene between  Kermond’s Richard and  his sister in law Queen Elizabeth ( a sensitive performance by Lainie Hart) after the death of his brother  KingEdward (Christopher Stollery). The final scene to mark Richard’s deception and betrayal of loyalty is between Kermond and Querol’s Buckingham, who defects to the forces of the invading Lancastrian Richmond and future Henry Vll.  In the first half we see Richard’s ascent to the throne after the death of Edward. In Rockspeare’s version, the second half gathers apace to the final battle on the field of Bosworth where justice holds sway and after an encapsulating scene in which the ghosts of the slain condemn Richard and promise victory to Richmond, Richard is slain screaming that immortal line, “My horse. My horse. My Kingdom for a horse.” Justice is dealt, order is restored and Damon Baudin’s dtug infused high Rock Star Richmond restores unity to the Plantagenets and the Lancastrians to serve the House of Tudor. 

Lainie Hart, Dene Kermond and Bojana Kos  Photo: Pass Out Media

Lakespeare’s liberties with text and characters have resulted in an exciting and dynamic telling of this historical tale. As a live theatre performance it may appear a little sparse at times and speed too swiftly towards its denouement, but as a live streamed performance of Shakespeare it is superbly compact, constantly engaging and thoroughly accessible. Central to this engagement is Dene Kermond’s performance of Richard. His villainous intent comes as no surprise. It is espoused in his opening prologue. However evil has many expressions and Kermond combines self-righteous malevolence with invidious guile, animal instinct and rhetorical persuasion .  Kermond’s absorbing, energy-charged and at times chilling performance presents a  complex and intriguing character who can make the unbelievable believable. 

Lakespeare’s reputation is already affirmed with its Summer Season of Shakespeare. Its first live streamed Winter production is again proof of the company’s ability to provide excellent professional performances of the Bard’s plays. My hope is that the company will be adequately supported financially to present first rate Shakespearian productions and return to live theatre once the pandemic has passed and Rockspeare’s Richard lll can be reprised on a Canberra stage.