Skip to main content

Richard III


Perth Theatre
Four stars

When the newly crowned monarch gives the finger during his coronation, you know trouble ahead is guaranteed from a clown prince gone dangerously off-message. This is exactly what happens in the second half of Lu Kemp’s youthful-looking production of Shakespeare’s most out-there history play. And when Joseph Arkley’s Richard raises his be-gloved digit from the throne he’s been craving since the beginning, it’s a punchline of sorts to every shaggy dog story he’s set up before then.

Arkley’s Richard cuts a lanky and malevolent dash from the off. Sporting military great-coat and a sneer, he never over-plays his opening ‘Now is the winter of our discontent’ speech, an easy to parody routine too often laced with hysterical verbal and physical tics. Arkley’s approach is more subtle, setting the tone for a quasi-contemporary reading of the play with a manner that moves between Jack Whitehall style goofiness and the deadly gallows humour of Dave Allen.

As dignitaries jet in and out of view to pick up the pieces and take stock, Richard employs a gang of shell-suited gangsters led by Michael Dylan and Martin McCormick’s blood-happy double act, who are all too happy to doff their cap as they do Richard’s dirty work. Pulsed by the cracked foreboding of Stevie Jones’ brooding sound design, it’s telling how the scarlet drapes of Natasha Jenkins’ abstraction-peppered set keeps things increasingly out of view from the likes of Meg Fraser’s breathlessly explosive Elizabeth and other dissenters.

The Spartacus moment when Richard gets his come-uppance in the play’s final scene may suggest unity, but in the end it shows how power works. Moreover, it shows how those craving it will cling on to the coat-tails of any ideology that will give them a leg up, however broken that ideology might be.

The Herald, March 26th 2018

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…