Saturday 14 December 2013

Review: Richard II (RSC, starring David Tennant)

There's so much I wanted to say about the new RSC Richard II, I thought a blog post was appropriate - I won't fit it all into 140 characters on Twitter!

Anyone who's ever discussed Shakespeare with me will know Richard II is my favourite Shakespeare play. It knocked Hamlet off the top spot ten years ago (good god, where has the time gone!?) when I first saw the Globe production with Mark Rylance in the title role. I loved it (and Mark) so much I went back and saw it several times during the season. The play became my favourite and I thought no one could ever play the role so well as Mark Rylance. I still adore that version even now, but I must admit that the new RSC version has proven that I can love another version - if not more then definitely as much!

Where to start about this production? It's simply perfect. The music is sublime, the staging a revelation and the performances stunning. They didn't go for as many laughs as the Globe production, but when they did those moments worked well. The more sombre scenes were beautifully played and I shed more than one tear before the end.

Of course they are working with amazing text - Shakespeare's only play written entirely in verse yields some wonderful lines and speeches - but the cast injected a real freshness to them. Previously, I've always found myself remembering the Globe version when hearing the lines, but this cast made them their own.
And now to David Tennant. I love David in Shakespeare in any case but he is truly inspirational in this production. He plays Richard as arrogant and yet also naive and that makes him a very sympathetic character as the play progresses. In photos, I had reservations about the long hair, but seeing it 'in action' I grew to really like it and the condition of his hair helped highlight his own changing circumstances. In the early scenes, before his fall, he looks absolutely beautiful at times. I liked how they played the relationship between him and Aumerle and the way it mirrored Jesus-Judas. In fact, I thought there was a lot of imagery setting Richard up as a Jesus-type figure.

If I weren't busy tomorrow (and a little short of cash), I'd go to see the second screening as it completely blew me away. I will be keeping an eager eye out on Amazon since I heard it will also be released on DVD later. I could watch this over and over and never get bored.

"Discharge my followers: let them hence away,
From Richard's night to Bolingbroke's fair day."

1 comment:

  1. Awwww, man, I want to see this!!! I was wondering about the hair in the pics - LOL!. I'm glad you mentioned that in your review. Sounds like an interesting design choice on the part of the director/production team!