Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review: 'Richard III'

by Daniel Hill

Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes (source: Guardian)
Shakespeare's play that tells the horrific story of Richard the III's reign over England is portrayed as a deadly and ruined stage of British History by the cast at the Almeida.

Directed by the Artistic Director, Rupert Gould, the theatre once again failed to disappoint. Ralph Fiennes as the evil Richard and acting royalty Vanessa Redgrave as dreamy Queen Margaret both, along with the rest of the cast, worked together to make this an unforgettable performance. 

As soon as the house is open, the bones of the historical figure are being dug up, in the now familiar setting of the Leicester Car Park. The pit is dug beneath the stage, and remains there throughout the play, with a glass floor sliding over it. The stage starts to fill up with locals who want to have a glance until suddenly news reports are being played loudly and noise is being broadcast until gracefully the crooked spine of King Richard the III is lifted out of the grave. 

Then suddenly Ralph Fiennes emerges from the back of the black stage, with his back hunched similarly to the Richard III we think of today. The idea of a timeless and placeless piece is created by the cast using mobile phones and medieval weapons.

The first line of the play sent a chill around the audience at the Almeida Theatre. Mr. Fiennes brought many sides of King Richard III to the table, presenting a comedic but utterly terrifying Duke of Gloucester. The particular hatred and loathing also emerged from his performance. And even though, at moments, his performance is very subtle, it remains effective and powerful right until the end.

And then we see Vanessa Redgrave, at the royal age of 79. 

She presents a mesmerizing and thought-provoking performance during her debut at the Almeida. She plays the slightly confused and dazed Queen Margaret. Meandering on, holding a doll in her arms, symbolizing many things, one which is not so clear until she gives it away to the equally wonderful Queen Mary. Personally to me this doll symbolized grievance and madness. Passing it on down to the next generation.

I have seen many productions at the Almeida recently, and they never seem to disappoint. And this one has followed clearly in suit.

Richard the III runs at the Almeida until 6th August 2016 and a nationwide screening is being broadcast to cinemas on 21st July 2016.

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