Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
The Globe Season - Richard II
Mark Rylance, whose regime has been in place since the Globe's inception, takes the part of Richard II, a perfect role for his sensitive and delicate interpretative skills. It has taken a little while but just as last season's offerings at the Globe seem to have improved the use of this difficult seventeenth century space, this production of Richard II establishes Rylance's Globe's reliability. The productions are not gimmicky but straightforward delivery of Shakespeare's verse, exquisitely dressed and performed by actors who have mastered the art of being heard in the open air without declaiming their lines. Rylance is of course a true star and tends to dwarf those around him. Somehow he can talk softly and be heard everywhere.
There are still a few problems, not from the company, but from the groundlings, those who choose to stand for £5 in the theatre's "pit". My complaint is their tendency to laugh at moments of great poignancy. As Richard asks for "a little, little grave", showing how reduced is this royal prince, they giggle. Does Rylance know that his pleading will have this effect on the crowd? Does he perhaps milk it? However to watch the wonderment on the faces of those late comers who stumble upon a live performance at the Globe and can join it for £5, is sheer pleasure. The downside of this participatory crowd is their expectation of comedy.
I cannot praise the original sumptuous costumes too highly. Every thing visual about the production is authentic spectacle, living museum. Jenny Tiramani was awarded an Olivier award for her costume design in 2002. I have watched the costumes develop from the first season jerkins in period with twentieth century trousers, to those state of the art confections we see today supported by authentic looking armour and weaponry.
Rylance's Richard, the shallow courtier, visits his dying uncle Gaunt (John McEnery) but stands a way off, holding a handkerchief to his face, self interest registering higher than his concern for his dying relative. The interesting thing about Richard is that despite his many faults and weaknesses, he is the anointed king. As Richard's power base crumbles, his stocking rolls down and he learns humanity. It is only when he is deposed that he wins our sympathy, only then valuing what he has lost. The all male production is less significant as there are so few female roles in Richard II and even Queen Isabel (Michael Brown) tall in his red Farthingale is marginalised as a significant player.
The production finishes on a celebratory Jacobean clap dance, executed with great style and aplomb and bringing a carnival feeling to the end of the evening.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.