Director Nikolai Foster, Curve's new Artistic Director, says he wanted to stage this bloody story against a backdrop of contemporary Russia and set on a stage depicting a bomb site. This admirably enabled the battle scenes and various assassinations to be done with modern weaponry rather than trusting a largely inexperienced cast with swords and bows & arrows. Especially in the second half there were pyrotechnics galore to highlight the uprising of warring factions and the eventual demise of the titular monarch on a Bosworth field. Creative lighting and sound fill the Studio space so you feel right in the action.
Right from the start local actor Mark Peachey's Richard commands the stage and strides the length and breadth filling it with bravado, comedic asides and finally his death throes. The stereotypical hump that Shakespeare erroneously ascribes to Richard is more accurately represented by a set of alien-like vertebrae down his back. Supported by a superb cast of both professional and amateur actors this production continues the worthy tradition of community theatre by the people of Leicester for the people of Leicester.
The inherent problems of staging in the round are compounded by the necessity of concentrating so hard to decipher Shakespeare's idiosyncratic phrasing and language. I think I managed to get the gist of the tale but missed out huge chunks of the detail because I couldn't decipher the dialogue. This is no reflection on the cast or the director. In fact Nikolai deserves a huge vote of thanks for cutting the piece down from its original 4 hours!
In essence this is a very worthy production that runs to Sunday 9 August.
I have not been converted to Shakespeare and would not go and see any other of his work. This vibrant and athletic production is probably the nearest I will ever come to an accessible work of Shakespeare. It is something to brag that I have seen despite not understanding much of the dialogue. I came away wondering if I had been seeing The Emperor's New Clothes.
First published in Western Gazette
© Paul Towers 2015