Roundhouse and in Stratford. Paired with the revival of his Twelfth Night, Tim Carroll directs much of the same cast in a new production of Richard III, although this too uses the Original Practices techniques that I've expressed reservations about before. Mark Rylance plays the hunchbacked, withered-armed Richard Duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward V and a few places down the line of succession to the throne. But the three people ahead of him are no obstacle if he kills them all, and once he becomes King Richard, his murderous insanity shows no sign of letting up.
In my Twelfth Night review I described Rylance as an actor whose career is typified by getting away with performances nobody else could. And for once, I'm not sure he does get away with it here. He's certainly funny and gets the audience on side, and after the interval, once he's ascended the throne, he makes a lot of interesting choices: As the king's insanity becomes harder to disguise, and Richard starts stopping dead in the middle of sentences, Rylance gives him a very creepy fixation with other people's bodily fluids, licking hands and heads, and lifting Anne's tears from her face to dab under his own dry eyes. But I couldn't help thinking this came a bit too late; the whole of his ascension to the throne was played too lightly to really imbue the whole play with a sense of menace. Ironically, the attempt to play it as a black comedy, by lightening up the blackness kind of dilutes the fierce impact of the comedy.
Richard III by William Shakespeare is booking in repertory until the 13th of October at Shakespeare's Globe, before transferring to the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue.
Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes including interval.