Monday, 18 July 2011

In Which There Is Science Fiction, Religion and Theatre (Part 2)

Following on from the exhibitions we had a very nice Japanese meal at a restuarant called Abeno, where we had Okonomi-yaki (Which I've never heard of before) which was cooked in front of us, and very tasty it was too!
Then we went back to Waterloo, to The Old Vic, to see Kevin Spacey's Richard III.

It's a modern-dress production: Richard gave the opening 'Now is the winter of our discontent' speech seated under a big TV screen showing King Edward, and the later scene in which King Edward urges the disunited peers to make friends was played as a photo-opportunity, which worked surprisingly well.

I was slightly surprised as how much emphasis was put on Richard's disabilities - not only did he have a very obvious hump-back, but also wore a leather glove to cover his 'withered' arm, and a calliper on his leg, which was twisted right round (must be terribly hard work, and uncomfortable for Mr Spacey, I would imagine!) I am not sure why, but I'd expected the whole 'crookback' thing to be very subtle, but it wasn't.

The other unexpected thing, for me, was the number of lines which turned out to be laugh-out-loud funny. Not what you expect in seeing one of the bloodier history plays, but very effective. In particular during Act III, when the citizens wish to see Gloucester and he claims to be at prayer.
The set was very plain - each side lined with doors, which heightened the sense of intrigue.
Honourable mentions go to Chuk Iwuji, who played Buckingham as a very political, untrustworthy, smarmy, spin-doctor, and to Annabel Scholey as Lady Anne, both repulsed by and attracted to Richard.

And at the end, as Richard's corpse was strung upside down from a wire, you could come to feel sorry for him...

I do have a few minor critisisms: there is a lot of drumming, which at times dorwned out the actors voices, and I personally found it slightly distracting to have half of the actors using American pronunciations of place names/ titles (more so, I think, than if it had been consistent, even if it had been consistently wrong) - Salisbury and Buckingham, in particular, but these are minor quibbles. All in all, it's a VERY good production, well worth seeeing.

Although I was left wanting to re-read Josephine Tey's 'The Daughter of Time' to redress the balance in relation to Richard's reputation.

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