Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Theatre review: Two Roses for Richard III
I'm all for theatre with ideas but I rarely thought Cláudio Baltar and Fábio Ferreira's ideas had much bearing on the play they're supposed to be directing. The show features people hanging from the ceiling, moving around in boar masks, both aand(the latter depending what side of the stage you're sitting on; I was spared) and two disappointingly underused towers descending from the heavens. Changing the order of scenes can work sometimes, but here Queen Elizabeth mourns the deaths of the Princes in the Tower long before they're even in the Tower, let alone dead. Richard himself is played by multiple actors, sometimes simultaneously, the character being indicated by a black ruff. He's played throughout by men, until just before the Battle of Bosworth when both Richard and Richmond get a sex change, the actress now giving Richard the limp none of the previous actors had bothered with. And for all the bold visuals the designers (Rostand Albuquerque, Rosa Magalhães) and actors create, this is still mainly told through the text (in Brazilian Portuguese) and since the actors largely speak in a flat, declamatory style, this ends up being a pretty dull evening looking at the surtitles.
The only scene that really worked for me was the murder of Clarence, an atmospheric moment with him (or "him," as he's also a woman at this point) holding onto a slowly spinning ladder with the murderers circling him on ropes. But the shared Richard/Richmond dream sequence has the ghosts suspended around the stage, and tellingly, as well as the translation back into English, the surtitles have to tell us which of the rivals each line is being delivered to. And if you need to clarify who's speaking to whom because it's not apparent from the staging, maybe you chose the wrong staging. At the end, a character who's some kind of cross between Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Gloucester from King Lear arrives on stage carrying a toy horse, just to drive home the point that somewhere in this show's development, someone got very confused.
Two Roses for Richard III, based on Richard III by William Shakespeare, is booking until the 23rd of May at the Roundhouse.
Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes including interval.