The recently exhumed and re-buried body of Richard III, together with the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, has given new topicality to this particularly bloodthirsty Bard’s play.
This ambitious production by the Theatre Royal’s amateur studio company is a bare bones and pacey version, running at under two hours and packing in the murders.
Gavin Bromley as Richard is exemplary from the off. Creepy, twisted and darkly funny, he is the quintessential “crouchback”. He keeps up the character beautifully throughout, delivering the complex dialogue at speed but with precise diction.
Also in vision for almost the whole play, Mandy Kiley as Queen Margaret cuts a brooding, vengeful figure, using her words to injure her transgressors and keeping a grim tally of the dead in a deft directorial touch from David Lambert.
Chris Neville as Richard’s conspirator Buckingham is suitably stately with an undertone of sinister, while the traitorous servant Catesby is brought vividly to life by Giles Branford.
There are solid performances from Abbe Swain as Elizabeth, Ged Bailes doubling as Rivers and Richmond, and Steven Askew as Hastings and Oxford. Bradley Flint, Henry Salt and Aaron Stokes show promise as the young princes.
It’s not a production that will do anything to rescue Richard’s reputation, but it definitely entertains.