Culture Writer Charis Gambon reviews the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard III, and finds the performance to perfectly portray the power-driven and maniacal Richard III

Written by charisGambon
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I recently went to see Shakespeare’s Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It was the second live Shakespeare performance I had ever seen and my first time I had seen a Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production. As someone who studied English Language at A-Level and a current History student, I was fascinated by the performance.

Richard III, for those who do not know, is a theatre piece about the pursuit of power and the eventual downfall that comes with power. The evil, tragedy and murder is all carried out by the selfish Richard III. The main theme surrounds the conflict between evil and good, with the plot driven forward by Richard’s psychopathic nature.

The language of Shakespeare is a difficult one to utilise within theatre productions, however all of the cast manage the language perfectly. The correct emotion, body language and gestures are also used by all of the actors which is important because it helps to provide indications to the audience of the occurring events.

Arthur Hughes portrays the role of Richard perfectly. Hughes is the first disabled actor in the RSC’s history to portray Richard, who arguably is the greatest disabled character ever written. Hughes disability certainly does not hold him back. He portrays a power-driven, maniacal and twisted Richard.

He portrays a power-driven, maniacal and twisted Richard

Rosie Sheehy portrays a perfect match for Hughes Richard within her portrayal of Lady Anne. The way that Sheehy speaks and stands clearly demonstrates her disdain for Richard; her passion and hatred was certainly felt every time she was on stage. Sheehy also portrayed the downfall of Anne implacably. The costumes chosen for Lady Anne were absolutely breath-taking and I found myself, as a historian, adoring every single one. In fact, all of the costumes created by Stephen Brimson Lewis were truly stunning and helped to set the scene.

Kirsty Bushell portrayed an outstanding Queen Elizabeth. It was incredibly clear that she was pained by Richard for his many wrongdoings against her. Bushell was the perfect choice for Elizabeth and her chemistry with Hughes and all of the other actors was truly superb. Bushell displayed her support for certain characters well and her disdain for Hughes’s Richard was obvious.

Kirsty Bushell portrayed an outstanding Queen Elizabeth

Minnie Gale portrays the eerie figure of Margaret (Henry VI’s window) incredibly well. When Gale’s Margaret was on stage the atmosphere changed and you could feel the intense pain and hatred within her portrayal. Her screams and curses were certainly eerie and provided a visualization that you cannot escape the past because the past will always catch up with you.

The one criticism I would suggest is that it is not a theatre piece that you can go and see without any prior understanding of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The piece is fast-paced with many characters and you can find yourself loosing track of who is who, if you are not careful. I would certainly suggest reading at least a synopsis and ensuring that you understand which characters will be present.

Rating: 4/5

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