Richard III at Temple Church
All friends and foes are indecipherable in this dark retelling of William Shakespeare’s Richard III, letting no man, woman or child survive as an obstacle in the famous villain’s pursuit of the English throne.
The minimalist and intimate location of Temple Church heightens the atmosphere and eeriness of this production by Antic Disposition. The acoustics of the venue mingle with the white and blue hues of the lighting to enhance the Gothic and the somewhat supernatural air encompassing the stage.
With the simple and minimal costume and set design, the directors, Ben Horslen and John Risebero, let nothing distract from the exemplary acting prowess of the cast. Particularly captivating is their direction of the dream sequence, which is displayed using a single backlit movement interlaced with subtle music, followed by the juxtaposed simplicity of a monologue from Richard III in complete, haunting silence.
The versatility of each member of the cast is impeccable. Both Jess Nesling and Bryony Tebbutt seamlessly weave in and out of playing distraught, widowed wives to young sibling princes within a matter of seconds and a quick costume change. Similarly, William de Coverly is able to transform from royalty as the Duke of Clarence into the slightly more common assassin, James Tyrell, effortlessly. Most notably, perhaps, is the compelling portrayal by Toby Manley of Richard of Gloucester, who shifts from merciless Machiavellian one minute to emotion-laden man the next as he fights his inner conscience. Whilst individual performances are exemplary, the strength of the ensemble as a whole captivates.
Although clearly altered slightly for a modern audience through the use of props, nothing is lost from the production, just as the performance would have been executed on its outset in the time of Shakespeare. This adaptation need not be enhanced by lighting, sound nor garish costumes, as the clarity and skill exhibited by the cast and company alone speak volumes.
Photo: Scott Rylander
Richard III is at Temple Church from 22nd August until 9th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here,