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14 July 2012


Richard III
Globe Theatre, London
Saturday 14th July 2012

Mark Rylance makes a welcome return to The Globe this season, for the first time since completing his post as Artistic Director in 2005.  In this duo of all-male productions incorporating "Original Practises", as well as playing the murderous King Rylance is also reprising his role as Olivia in Twelfth Night later in the year.  Having been through a difficult couple of weeks causing him to decide to pull out of his involvement with the Olympic Opening Ceremony, his first steps onto the stage on this Opening Night were appreciatively met with rapturous applause.  And he did not disappoint. 

Richard III is Shakespeare's second longest play with the protagonist addressing the audience even more than Hamlet, and Rylance's conspiratorial performance was pitched perfectly.  The dichotomy between Richard's sly words and the audiences knowledge of his actions and intentions was played with delicate comic timing and met with frequent peals of wry laughter.  These moments of wit only set to heighten the drama of the sudden mood shift, as the man who would be King dramatically disposes of all in his path.  Directed by Tim Carroll, this was a performance that delighted the appreciative audience into the longest curtain call of which I have ever been part.

A faultless supporting company across the board too.  In this all-male cast, the few female characters were particularly well done, with special note to Samuel Beckett's Queen Elizabeth, played with touching grace and motherly passion.  James Garnon's Duchess of York was also excellent, seemingly floating across the stage in his enormous dress.  Roger Lloyd Pack as Buckingham and Paul Chahidi as Hastings, and later Tyrell, were both strong and memorable performances.  The boys playing the young Princes were excellent, and had no trouble being heard in the daunting space against the lashing rain. 

With the production topped off with sumptuous costuming, complimentary live music, and culminating with a dance on the grave of the villainous King, this is a delightfully rewarding night in the Wooden O.

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