Saturday, 28 May 2016

Richard III. A Bad Man

Last Saturday evening, the BBC broadcast the 3rd in the current series of The Hollow Crown, Richard III. 

It features Benedict Cumberbatch as the scheming, murderous monarch, Judi Dench as his mother, the Duchess of York, and Sophie Okonedo as Margaret of Anjou, widow of Henry VI. 

The play follows on from the 2 previous episodes (compressed from the 3 Henry VI plays) and it helps to have watched the earlier ones to build up an understanding of the background, the characters, and their relationships, but this is the big one, where Richard III comes into his wicked, murderous own.

It's a very good adaptation. Cumberbatch revels in the role, particularly his soliloquies, spoken directly to the camera, drawing us in to his plots.

Between times, he spends a lot of time brooding over a chess board, drumming his fingers, never satisfied or safe.

They play is, of course, pretty bleak, but there are nevertheless moments of humour - the scene in which the Mayor of London and others arrive to 'persuade' Richard to take the throne is very funny.

The final showdown, at the Battle of Bosworth Field, is as grim as it comes, with endless acres of blood and rain and mud. 

Richmond (Luke Treadaway) naturally turns up, looking impossibly clean-cut and noble, and, inevitably, defeats Richard.

This is, of course, entirely consistent with Shakespeare's play, if not with history (the victory is true, of course. The nobility, less so) 

It's well worth seeing.

No comments: