Richard III is without doubt about Richard, maybe that is unsurprising, however, unlike any other named play perhaps, with this one, others rarely matter. There are no side plots, we have no fool for instance, in fact, nothing much other than Richard and his devilish plotting to power. Perhaps here in this cut version (still 150 minutes including the interval), Richard is, even more, the centre of attention. We don't generally get to know many of his victims much before he is dispatching them. Maybe this is why there is more comedy from the piece actually, even more about him, allows us to become part of his addled mind. He is crazy, but here, he is funny crazy. Many of the lines are emphasised for the comedy, and us the audience also are part of his mind. Richard very much is talking to us, and even more so, we get knowing nods and sly looks direct to us (the moment at the crowning is comic brilliance), leaving the audience laughing as he prepares or has already disposed of his latest victim.
There is much to love elsewhere as well though despite this being all about Richard. There is a truly sharp and calculating performance from Heledd Gwynn as the obedient and trusting Ratcliffe. Elsewhere Buckingham is played strongly by Stefan Adegbola's all the scheming, to begin with, and then panic induced as realisation dawns. Tom Kanji is clipped and business-like as Catesby, dressed in a stylish suit, one great part of the impressive costumes in this modern restyling of the historic tale.
Lighting from Elliot Griggs, and sound from George Dennis is simply incredible and perfectly timed. Visually blood-red lighting as the weapon strikes, flashes of light as heart pain strikes, with brilliant sound effects and topped off by an amazing crown of lights high above proceedings. This is stylish, but never overdone, a perfect balance.
Visually striking and superb modern restyling, with a mesmeric performance from Tom Mothersdale.
Performance reviewed: Wednesday 15th May 2019 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.
Richard III is at Royal & Derngate until Saturday 25th May 2019.
Photos: Marc Brenner