Richard III at the New Diorama Theatre
The Faction’s new production of Shakespeare’s violent tragedy involves some interesting ideas, but not all of them work in this occasionally disjointed show.
Beginning after the three York brothers have won a massive battle and are bringing peace to the country, this new calmness in the country does not suit the youngest brother Richard (Christopher York), who soon plots and murders his way to the throne.
With only a red carpet and red lighting to help set the scene, Richard III has a dance-like quality to it that, although it helps the piece flow from scene to scene with ease, also manages to underestimate the play’s violent nature, such as during the Duke of Clarence and Lady Anne’s deaths.
However, being basic in terms of the set and use of props means that Mark Leipacher’s production is closely focused on the language and psychology of the play, really getting into the minds of all of the characters and trying to draw out new interpretations.
This is particularly evident in the majority of the scenes involving Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, where a simple change in his posture allows the audience to see two very different sides to his personality and draw their own conclusions as to what kind of a man he is.
As well as York’s excellent rendition of Richard, who slowly builds in aggression and intense power, there are also perfectly judged performances from Kate Sawyer as Elizabeth and Carmen Munroe as the Duchess of York. Both characters are strong, but with a hint of vulnerability.
The use of sound effects becomes increasingly chilling as the production develops and as the body count climbs; starting with rustling paper before progressing to heads being chopped off, it certainly creates more tension in the production.
The stage feels overcrowded in certain scenes, with some characters not having anything to do, making this at times a tangled and confusing production. However, The Faction has managed to come up with a refreshing take on Shakespeare’s play in their own unique style.
Richard III is on at the New Diorama Theatre from 5th January until 6th February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.