Richard III at Arcola Theatre
It’s no surprise that in today’s political climate we are still fascinated by the tale of the power hungry dictator in Richard III. Centred on one man’s fixation for the crown, this adaptation directed by Mehmet Ergen neither defines time nor place, creating an allusion of timelessness, which shows how universal Shakespeare’s story of the pursuit of power is.
One highlight of this production has to be Greg Hicks’s embodiment of Richard III. His dark, commanding presence creates a magnetic pull that draws the audience in. One key element of the character is his limp, represented here through a chain attached from the actor’s arching foot to his limp hand. This representation of his disability creates the idea that he is trapped in his own body, further emphasised when others take advantage of this weakness. It is fascinating to witness Hicks’s different personas of Richard come to life, seen when interacting with the other characters.
One memorable scene is the short portrayal of the coronation, perfectly encapsulating the macho bravado seen throughout the whole performance. This boyish moment of triumph alludes to a deeper understanding of the child-like state of Richard III, also hinted at when he plays with a toy plane belonging to the dead Prince. This almost serves as explanation for his obsessive nature, and complete lack of empathy for those around him.
The simple set is used effectively, with the addition of levels that create interesting spatial relationships between the characters. Lighting is utilised particularly well when moving in and out of Richard’s monologues, through the changes from warm to cold light, creating a level of intimacy between the protagonist and the audience. But there is a certain disconnection between the costumes of some characters, causing questions to arise about why they are dressed the way they are.
The issue that will always arise in any production of Richard III is how to keep track of the relationship between the vast number of characters, however, some confusion about this at points did not hinder the enjoyment of the performance. Overall, the entire cast worked well off each other to create an interesting and solid representation of Shakespeare’s political play.
Photo: Alex Brenner
Richard III is at Arcola Theatre from 11th May until 10th June, for further information or to book visit here.