REVIEW: Richard III Tobacco Factory by Gerry Parker 8/10
PERHAPS it was the jokes floating around before curtain up about Shakespeare writing a play featuring a Leicester car park attendant, or the Richard III Society's determination to prove Shakespeare gave Richard such a bad press in order to please the Tudor Queen Elizabeth I, but I found it difficult at first to accept John Mackay's quirkily funny Richard as a Machiavellian murderer.
His close-cropped white hair and gaunt features gave him a death head appearance that certainly spelled evil for all those who stood between him and the throne of England, but there was at times a little too much of a distinct twinkle in his eye, rather than sly plotting, as he manipulated those around him. Gradually, however, as one sinister plot followed another, the evil heart of Richard became more and more visible.
The verbal battle with Lisa Kay's deeply passionate Queen Elizabeth, wonderfully staged by director Andrew Hilton making use of every inch of the acting area, was a scene to savour.
In a play dominated by male actors Lisa, Dorothea Myer-Bennett's much abused Lady Anne, and Nicky Goldie a ferociously independent Queen Mother, more than just held their own against their male counterparts. We have become so used to this company presenting a clear cut finely spoken presentation of Shakespeare's work that we take it all too readily for granted. Even when this production seemed to be going along at too fast a pace it never lost this clear vision of the play and its characters.
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Paul Currier's suave Duke of Buckingham, contrasting beautifully with David Collins' thoughtfully honest Lord Stanley, expertly illustrated these assets which make this company such a boon to the theatrical life of Bristol.