Richard III; The Original Game of Thrones.
Over the years I have seen some great adaptations of Shakespeare in Leicester. Whether it was the energetic Othello set in a council estate by Frantic Assembly or the intriguing production of Macbeth that saw theatre goers sit for the first act on the stage before following the actors behind the scenes of the old Haymarket theatre. One production I have never seen in Leicester is Richard III and what better time to see it than in the year of his internment at Leicester Cathedral. With so much focus on Richard then it was a brave move for Curve’s Artistic Director to stage the show and an even braver one to schedule the tragedy as one of Curve’s celebrated community productions, writes Lilith Hunt Sheppard.
Curve’s studio performance space was transformed into a scene of destroyed decadence, a rectangular granite plinth, glittering under the remains of a once grand chandelier which itself hangs from twisted and distorted ceiling made up of half broken ceiling tiles and bent metal framing. Industrial columns border the stage on two sides, the audience makes up the other two amidst scattered shoes, crumbled concrete and dust. It’s a jarring scene.
As we sit and wait for act one, the lights from the chandelier dips and the crackle and screech of electricity takes us to an unstable place, a war zone full of uncertainty before crash. A loud bang, audience and stage plunged into darkness and Mark Peachey as Richard emerges, his naked torso exposing a back as twisted as the ceiling him. This really is a winter of discontent.
Peachey’s performance as Richard is electrifying throughout. Dressed in a long leather jacket , with additional panels to accommodate the infamous hump and with his left hand bandaged to only expose his thumb and index finger, his other hand exposed but generally, hanging back behind him. It was interesting to see how this small detail was used throughout showing supposed kindness and manipulation with his open right hand or when he was more sinister using his left hand to make his ‘point’.
Richard III is a classic tale of manipulation and a thirst for power, of murder and betrayal and director Nikolai Foster has described it as one of the first ‘box sets’, a Shakespearian ‘Breaking Bad’ if you will and his stylish direction backs up this assertion with some incredibly powerful scenes. The three female regals played by Catriona McDonald as Queen Margaret, Emily Mawer as Queen Elizabeth and Leanne Mitchel as Duchess of York were particular favorites; each character showing the strength and desire to simply protect the ones they love.
Other highlights included an incredible pre battle nightmare and climatic battle filled with machine gun fire and bomb blasts. We also reveled in the desperate seediness of Richard’s henchmen, portrayed as red eyed addicts, trading drugs for murder and twitching with withdrawal, their blood itching with it. Filled with fur coats and princes in snapbacks, drugs and even a burst of Duran Duran, Foster’s resetting in of the play into the decadent days of late 90’s Russia with oligarchic overtones translated perfectly and highlighted the timelessness Shakespeare’s narrative.
Once again audiences were treated to a performance by Curve’s community cast that was anything but amateur. The entire cast performed faultlessly though special praise must go to Peachey and his portrayal of the perfect villain. If murder and manipulation is your thing then Curves adaptation of Richard III certainly won’t disappoint, it runs until the 9th August, make sure you book now.
To book call the Ticket Office — 0116 242 3595
Or Visit http://www.curveonline.co.uk/
Leicester, LE1 1SB