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?