Skip to main content

Review of Richard II performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Delapre Abbey, Northampton

Long term sufferers of my reviews will have easily picked up the fact that the great Bard, Mr Shakespeare is not really my bag. Usually suffering his slings and arrows often to just continue to support the various groups that I now follow. Richard II represents also the most problematic of his works for me, the history plays. However I am always optimistic, and more especially with the University interpretations as they always do something different, whether bringing his stories into a different timeline, as they did with Romeo & Juliet's 90s council estate last year, or some innovative casting decisions, Catherine Garlick for instance as Malcolm in Macbeth three years ago. This time they take the later style and in a much bolder move, casting vast swathes of ladies in the men's roles (possibly a necessity though having seen the gender balance this year).

They didn't have to give us a female Richard though, but perhaps it was the crowning glory in this production though as Kate Jones gives a devastating performance, all as strong perhaps as any of the men in this production could have done, to be honest. Our King is played with a striking stalking style, full of wonderful confident eye contact with her courtiers (us the audience). It is a challenging role to undertake (even in this condensed version of the play), but it is one that Kate maintains the standard with throughout.

There were many other excellent performances of course in this show, too many to mention really, however, a couple of highlights included Gracia Hogg as John of Gaunt, a suitable unsteady, ungainly performance of the physically restricted character, she brought about the evocative "scepter'd isle" speech with wonderful power. I also really enjoyed Robert Woodward's portrayal as Lord Ross, a suitably unsure and untrustworthy performance, which he builds throughout.

It is worth pointing out at this moment that this production was presented outdoors and the English weather was "dynamic" on the afternoon I saw the show. We the audience got seriously wet but so did the cast and they didn't miss a beat in their performances.

Director Roger Smart makes much of the environment that the play is performed in, using all the possible entrances to the courtyard, upstairs windows and in the final climactic scene, a spin around every downstairs window as Richard's end is spectacularly brought about. This scene, in particular, must have looked incredible in one of the nighttime performances.

So an entertaining performance of a somewhat uninspiring play for me personally, with a collection of genuillly talented young actors, some nice use of physical theatre with the Shadows in battle and very clever use of the venue.


Performance viewed: Saturday 20th May, 2017 (matinee) at Delapre Abbey, Northampton

Richard II runs until Sunday 21st May 2017.
Twitter feed for the University actors is @BA_Actors


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Rules For Living at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It is possibly a rule in life for a few in the audience for the opening night of Sam Holcroft's domestic comedy Rules For Living not to mention Christmas until December. Therefore anyone of such a persuasion might have been a little perturbed to be presented on the 13th September with, an undeniably brilliantly dressed, homely Christmas scene.

Opening up in glorious dollhouse style and on a gorgeous little hinge, this little home of living room and kitchen sets the scene for a typical family Christmas. Mother Edith (Jane Booker) welcomes her sons, Matthew (Jolyon Coy) and Adam (Ed Hughes) and their respective partners, Carrie (Carlyss Peer) and Nicole (Laura Rogers) And with a final dramatic arrival of father Francis (Paul Shelley), the scene is very much set for comic antics of the highest calibre.

The first thing you get from Rules For Living in the first few minutes is the arrival of one of the most brilliant, yet simple concepts I have seen for a while in the play. These are …

Review of Make Way For Lucia by John Van Druten at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

There have been a couple of television versions of the Mapp & Lucia novels by E. F. Benson over the years and irrespective of which generation version you might have seen, the roles of Miss Mapp and Mrs. Lucas were filled with some heavyweight performers. So taking on these roles could, in theory, be a challenge too much to live up to. However, that would be if the characters themselves were less the sum of the performer. These are great characters on paper as well as on stage and therefore Gena McCrystal (Miss Mapp) and Juliet O'Connor (Lucia) make them very much their own in the stage adaption by John Van Druten.

Lucia has arrived and breezed both into the town of Tilling and the musical chair roundabout of house rental that is want to occur here. Her rented property is Miss Mapp's and for some reason, Mapp fails to follow the routine of keeping away, constantly "popping in", so the battle lines are drawn.
Make Way for Lucia is the typical battle of supremacy i…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…