Saoirse Ronan makes her UK stage debut in Yael Farber’s testosterone-fest, which is vivid, but much too long.
At more than three hours, The Tragedy of Macbeth stretches the patience at the Almeida Theatre, despite strong work from Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle.
Classic Spring, a new theatre company from former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Dominic Dromgoole, today announces first casting and creatives for a year-long celebration of Oscar Wilde at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, starting in October with Eve Best in A Woman of No Importance.
Richard II is one of Shakespeare’s great treats and, for
this writer at least, contains some of his most beautiful writing as well as
one of the more fascinating storylines in the canon. Somehow though, this is my
first experience of seeing it performed live. I’ll confess to having trouble picturing
Charles Edwards as Richard. I’ve always enjoyed Edwards’ work but this is
a little bit different to his recent roles.
Thankfully I was wrong (and not for the first time) to be
concerned! We’ve seen petulant Richards, childlike Richards and recently Ben
Whishaw’s ethereal monarch in the BBC’s majestic Hollow Crown series. Edwards gives us Richard the bon-vivant, letting
loose with sardonic asides that his pandering courtiers fall over themselves to
laugh at. He’s lost in his own world and thinks himself hilarious, making his
eventual fall all the more harrowing. When he realises he is lost and bids his
followers sit with him and tell stories of former kings it’s harrowing,
especially when, with a lost look on his face he reaches out and clutches the
hand of an audience member.
who shone earlier this year as Gratiano in Shakespeare’s
Globe’s Merchant of Venice is excellent as Bolingbroke, merciless in the
face of those who wrong him he nevertheless seems reluctant to take power until
he realises it is his only choice.
Director Simon Godwin
balances the humour and the sorrow well, taking pains to ensure that the
funnier lines hit home. Sadly the dramatic moments fall a little flat as
several of the cast seem hell bent on reducing the running time by gabbling
through their lines as if they might miss their train home. The exception is William Gaunt who delivers his namesake’s
fervent elegy to his homeland as a masterclass in understated grief.
Gaunt’s passionate dismissal of Richard “Live in thy shame, but die not
shame with thee!”
cuts like a knife and still rings in the ears when the former sovereign meets