The Life & Death of Puppet King Richard II

This is Richard II as you’ve never seen him before, in a purple shell-suit wielding power over his puppet kingdom with subjects that range from beautiful two foot high hand carved rod puppets to kitchen spoons, shoe trees and gloves with balls of wool for heads.

With the magical set twinkling with candlelight from deep in the cave we settle in with our blankets.

We wind our way through the display in the little Onca gallery to find a hidden courtyard that is the perfect setting for the fourteenth century. With the magical set twinkling with candlelight from deep in the cave we settle in with our blankets.

Richard II and all the major parts are played by Gregory Gudgeon, he is supported by Lucas Augustine who plays minor parts, live music, operates the sound and generally runs the show. Augustine and Gudgeon have a great partnership, their chemistry and quirky showmanship makes for a fun, entertaining and thoroughly well-acted show. Gudgeon is delightful and portrays Richard as a slightly eccentric, playful, but thoughtful monarch who has lost all his power to Henry Bolingbroke. The fact that in this version he has lost his power to puppets makes his demise all the more poignant.

The comic asides and deliberate moments of chaos - puppets losing their heads, sound cues going wrong, repetition of lines and the stage whispers between Gudgeon and Augustine - make us feel as if we are co-conspirators in the fun and this definitely adds to the action; although at times I did wonder if this also detracted from the pathos. Gudgeon clearly has the talent to make us feel for this Richard who has lost everything, but somehowI didn’t really care that Richard was ousted, I was more interested in the puppets’ revolt. But, seeing as Augustine begins by playing minor parts and ends up wearing Richard’s crown, maybe that’s the whole point? 

Reviews by Lou Rogers

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

King Richard faces a great reckoning in a little cell. The one-time golden boy is tarnished. He can’t stop crying or talking, in his ragged prison walls. Did he go, or was he pushed? Voices, choices, gilded loam and painted clay - who was pulling his strings? And if the King isn’t in charge, then who is?! Gregory Gudgeon (The Lion King, Shakespeare's Globe, Complicité & RSC) is the King who can't stop playing. BowerBird Prague are delighted to be collaborating with ONCA Gallery in their thrilling new site-specific space, The Cave. “An astonishing staging, thrilling and mesmerising.” Guy Roberts, artistic director Prague Shakespeare Co. "Highly original, really pulls the heartstrings, a highlight of the season." HE Jan Thompson OBE, UK Ambassador to the Czech Republic. "Brilliant. You will want to be in this show." Steve Gove, Founder and Director Prague Fringe Festival Touch tours available 45 minutes before the performance. Please email info@onca.org.uk or call 01273 607101 to book.