Richard III @ The PavillionTheatre

February 21, 2011

Love & Madness were here this time last year presenting a stripped down and hoodie friendly production of Romeo and Juliet. However bad that was, it can’t contend with their insipid Richard The Third. Arriving sans its London stars, Sadie Frost and Carl Prekopp or any sense of time, place, emotion or atmosphere. It’s not badly acted, its not acted at all. Set in the corporate world, but never clarified as to why our actors -or reciters- appear on stage in suits, suspenders and ties, double up nebulously and speak without any passion or appreciation for the text. Directed by Ben Kidd each scene meanders aimlessly into the next, dragging on and on with so sense of destination, and in spite of having seen this play twice already in the past 12 months I was unsure of what was going on a lot of the time.

They seem to have nothing at stake. This is a world where people loose their heads for the careless flicking of a tongue, where family and friends are sacrificed to ensure political survival and where even children are considered acceptable targets by their Machiavellian uncle. This is a country torn apart by civil war, by prejudice, where prophecies and curses can still move the characters to malice and melancholia and where the balance of power shifts from scene to scene. None of this is captured. Not effectively. Not at all.

The cast shows no concern, no fear, no paranoia, no blood lust, no anger, no majesty, anarchy or desire…for power or for each other. Iarla McGowan plays Richard here as if he were the evil, crippled spawn of wee Daniel. Mouth screwed up, a shriveled hand with the occasional slob of drool dripping out his mouth; he never conveys the charm of a man whose tongue could open a wine bottle. The supporting cast are universally bland with only Madeleine Hyland(Queen Elizabeth) and Nicholas Kempsey( Queen Margaret) to life ever rising above a flat lined delivery of the verse.

Telling the story of an unwanted leader whose need to lead taints all around him, a decent production should provide an electric evenings entertainment, one that would resonate with the masses and highlight the brilliance of the bard. Instead it is staid, stodgy and despite being only two hours in length, it felt intolerably long.



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