Review: Richard III at Nottingham Playhouse

Ian Bartholomew as Richard III at Nottingham Playhouse
Ian Bartholomew as Richard III at Nottingham Playhouse

It is quite fitting given the violent way in which Richard III actually died, that one of the cast members in the new Nottingham Playhouse production has injured himself in the final battle scene.

Charles Daish, as George Duke of Clarence, bravely acted on though, using his crutches to good effect as he succumbed to evil Richard’s plans for world domination.

In what is the first major production of Shakespeare’s play since his remains were discovered, and following the screening of the BBC’s The White Queen this summer, Richard III has barely been out of the media this year.

But it is Shakespeare’s portrayal of the tyrannical monarch that is best known and Ian Bartholomew’s performance does not disappoint.

His Richard has an almost comic quality about him, which adds an extra layer of lunacy to the king’s murderous plot to seize the throne.

He expertly manipulates the aristocracy to get where he wants, revealing all in soliloquies and asides that are practically humorous in delivery.

The scene in which he stands up in the circle while the actors move among the audience, calling for him to save the country and take the throne, shows his slippery skill to full effect.

There is not a weak link in the cast of actors, but I can imagine that with so many characters, anyone who does not know the plot could get confused as to who is who when. But this is only a minor fault.

The simple black set makes a surprisingly convincing medieval court, while projected video images create a haunting nightmare, as Richard’s victims come back to condemn him on the eve of battle.

We know Richmond will win and he does so in a dramatic and violent battle.

The rest as they say, is history.

Richard III is on at the Nottingham Playhouse until 16th November.