Thursday, 9 January 2014

RICHARD II

RSC at the Barbican
January 9th, 2014

Director: Greg Doran
Talent: David Tennant, Michael Pennington, Oliver Ford Davies, Nigel Davies, Jane Lapotaire

Present: WW, NM, RM, RP, Roland Walters

I am reliably informed that at the outset the cast was told to think of Bolingbroke as captain of rugby and Richard as captain of cricket, and so it was. The contrast between the two protagonists was heavily underlined, to good effect, Bolingbroke (Nigel Davies) roughly utilitarian in a Martyn Williams sort of way, Richard (Tennant) graceful and careless as Gower.  Of course Tennant's is the main role, and his performance was subtle and intelligent: as Richard's royalty diminishes, so the man emerges.  He begins reedy-voiced, effeminate, but assuming his own semi-divinity (he is fey but strutting), and in the course of the play grows stronger in voice and truth to himself. The production is stately, perhaps purposefully, but pace is sacrificed (though this correspondent must confess to a jet lag that enforced the occasional float into dreams).  The design by Stephen Brimson Lewis is first class, unobtrusively emphatic.  

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