Richard II

Politically, it seems like a highly appropriate time to stage a production of Shakespeare’s Richard II - an exploration of the nature of leadership and egotistical entitlement. But then again, when is it not?

It’s not often that we see a fringe production willing to take on the challenges of this play and overall it’s worth seeing.

This production by We are Animate, directed by Lewis Brown at the Brockley Jack Theatre manages to get to the essence of the play in a very concise 80 minutes. The set design is sparse, using the small space and a few wooden platforms to abstract the play’s shifting hierarchical relationships. And the plot progresses deftly between selected pivotal moments in the narrative - effectively deploying movement and music in well choreographed transitions to maintain the energy and drive the play forward.

There are some excellent performances on stage, notably Fleur De Wit who plays Bolingbroke with both humility and ambition; Lizzy Dive embodies York’s conflicted loyalties with wisdom and status; Harriet Barrow and Daniel Takefusa play Aumerle and Bushy - treading the play’s political tightrope with a complex combination of integrity and self-preservation.

Richard himself is played by Michael Rivers. He chooses a very strong characterisation that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. We see Richard’s vacuous narcissism performed with a playful superficiality culminating in delusion and tantrum.

There is however more to be got out of this play by allowing Richard to explore the full depth and sincerity of the character - deeply wounded, craving respect and adoration, inhabiting the throne with a sense of divine entitlement but lacking the stability and wisdom required to do the job; intense, thoughtful, insecure and narcissistic – but rarely superficial.

It’s not often that we see a fringe production willing to take on the challenges of this play and overall it’s worth seeing.

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Reviews by Mel Evans

Cartridge Pl

The Burnt City

★★★★★
Omnibus Theatre

SAD

★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

The Woods

★★★
The Brockley Jack Theatre

Richard II

★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Rain and Zoe Save The World

★★
Park Theatre London

Never Not Once

★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Amidst worldwide political turbulence, England faces societal crisis and open rebellion. Living a life of luxury within the crumbling Palace of Westminster, King Richard is increasingly unwilling to face the calamity his failing government has created. As the façade of power begins to dissolve around him, the dramatic downfall of an extraordinary individual begins; an individual who is in equal measures both vivaciously captivating, and excruciatingly cruel.

We Are Animate are proud to present this new version of one of Shakespeare’s most subversive plays. In our own age of unprecedented political turmoil, this production explores the power and strength of femininity, and questions what traits are expected, and respected, in a leader.

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