Richard III Four Stars ****

imageGodot’s Watch is a young company who aim high with their inaugural production of Richard III, and hit most of their targets.

The play has been severely cut and is performed by a company of eight actors; most of them graduates from East 15 Acting School and Manchester Metropolitan University. Astonishingly young, they tackle this mammoth of a political play, having given it the tag line of ‘the original house of cards’.

The finesse and arduous scheming of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is well translated in the rapid fire of monologues and dialogues, and keeps the audience on their feet. The rhythm is appropriately broken by the compelling sound design (Daniel Harmer, one to watch!) and bold, empty stage, allowing the audience to catch up and settle between the movements in the ever changing political climate during Richard’s acquisition of the crown.

Interesting cross gender casting begins to open up a modernisation of the relationships, but leaves room for further execution. Other modern influences, such as the use of the iPhone’s ‘Siri’ bring a sense of humour to this production, and in this case is not misplaced.

Under Séan Aydon’s talented direction, the company acts their hearts out, but I did feel that the severity of the cuts let them down on occasion. Stand out acting of the evening was delivered by Michael Rivers, who as Rivers, Murderer, and Stanley certainly managed to show his range and extraordinary imagination.

Sam Coulson’s performance as Richard is intriguing and compellingly free. The pace of this show is enhanced by the cast’s delivery of the verse – it is in fact a beautifully spoken piece of theatre and dutifully supported by the interplay of design and sound. Visually stunning it is perhaps not a groundbreaking rendition of the play – but definitely one worth seeing for the company alone.

Review by Alice Kornitzer
Produced by Godot’s Watch
Running at the Rosemary Branch Theatre until 29th January 2017.
Tickets available online http://www.rosemarybranchtheatre.co.uk/event/richard-iii, on the phone, 0207 704 6665, or via e-mail rosemarybranchboxoffice@gmail.com

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