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 Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …

Review of Accused, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at St Peter's Church, Northampton

Going into seeing Accused, the first devised show by this years third year BA Actors graduates, I have to confess I shamefully knew nothing of its influence, Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. However, it wasn't a great leap for me to identify that the piece gorgeously sung by the whole cast at the end of this really imaginative piece, was indeed part of the Ballad itself.

The Ballad it turns out, written by Wilde during exile following release from Reading tells of the execution of a man called Wooldridge, a man hung for cutting the throat of his wife. In Accused, we have another prisoner, destined to hang, but cleverly for what remains to its end, an unknown crime. It's bad, pretty bad, clear from the reaction of both prisoner and guards alike, and the Accused's life is generally in danger a great deal, long before the Executioner (played extremely nicely by Georgi McKie) comes to do her bidding.

Playing the Accused, and really rather brilliantly, is Alexande…