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The Faction’s Richard III at the New Diorama Theatre

Richard III at the New Diorama Theatre LondonEveryone has goals and will do what they can to achieve their aims. Now, in ordinary life this doesn’t necessarily have that much affect. However, when the goal is the throne of England and the person chasing it has no real claim to the prize, then everyone will find their lives changed by this pursuit. Welcome to The Faction’s production of Richard III at the New Diorama Theatre.

After an opening battle which sees the ascension of Edward IV (Richard Delaney) to the English throne, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Christopher York) addresses the audience and tells them of his plans to take the crown from his brother and put it on his own head. Standing between Richard and the throne are family members, such as his other Brother, the Duke of Clarence (Lachlan McCall) and the legitimate offspring of the King and his wife Elizabeth (Katy Sawyer). Using his gifts of guile and a wonderful smoothness of tongue, Richard builds his power base, starting with various disaffected nobles who have fallen out with the Queen and her family, such as Lord Hastings (Gary Richards) and the Dukes of Buckingham (Anna Maria Nabirye) and Derby (Amelia Donkor). Employing techniques that make the Lannisters from ‘Game of Thrones’ Richard achieves his objective and becomes Richard III of England. Given the methods by which he has taken control, can Richard now wear the crown with ease?

The Faction is an unusual theatrical production company in that, as Shakespeare would say, ‘The play’s the thing’. With no scenery, no props and no real costumes, the delivery of Richard III is all about the writing and the acting. And, I have to say that on the whole it works really well. I’ve got to be honest and admit that the lack of costume changes did occasionally cause me some confusion as performers took on different roles but this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

As always, Shakespeare’s writing is superb and, while it’s obvious he fell for all the Tudor propaganda around Richard III, he still gives the king the best lines which Christopher York delivers with superb eloquence making Richard far less the villain I was expecting him to be. All the way through, Christopher’s performance never falters and he brings Richard to life fantastically.

As regular readers may know, I have never been impressed with Shakespeare’s writing for women but Richard III is definitely the exception that breaks the rule. There is a wonderful scene in Act II where the Duchess of York (Carmen Munroe), Queen Margaret (Sakuntala Ramanee) and Queen Elizabeth (Katie Sawyer) meet in a dimly lit room and discuss the benefits and methods of cursing Richard. I thought this scene was marvelous both in its writing and execution with three fantastically talented actresses really providing a deeply emotional commitment to the words. This scene is followed by a confrontation between Richard and his Mother, the Duchess of York which both Christopher and Carmen play brilliantly adds the acid tongued woman reduces her son to a sniveling wreck of a boy – a skill mothers throughout the centuries have perfected.

Director Mark Leipacher has put together a really engaging production that, despite its length – second longest after Hamlet – grips the audience from the fantastically staged starting battle (full credit to Fight Director Kevin McCurdy) right to Bosworth at the end. I have to say that I was really impressed with the use of sound effects at various times which were perfectly synchronised with the actors on the stage – this is particularly true during one of the execution scenes which, with the addition of highly realistic sound was very intense to watch.

All in all then, this production of Richard III is extremely well done and very entertaining. Don’t worry too much about the historical accuracy – Shakespeare was a playwright not an historian – just go along, sit back and immerse yourself in the wonderful prose delivered by a first rate company.

4 Stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Richard III
A deformed soldier returns victorious from the battlefield. His physical appearance, and thirst for violence, prevent him from adjusting to peace. While the rest of the army become lovers and partygoers, Richard channels his energy into his next target: murdering his way to the crown.

An epic production performed in The Faction’s trademark physical style by a diverse ensemble of 21 performers directed by Artistic Director Mark Leipacher.

In this highly physical show, the actors use their bodies to create every element they need to tell the story from ghosts, to the Tower of London, and even a horse going into battle. The production contains many unforgettable theatrical moments.

The Richard III Company
Christopher Adams, Jeremy Ang Jones, Christopher Birks, Richard Delaney, Amelia Donkor, David Eaton, Alexander Guiney, Winnie Imara, Damian Lynch, Lachlan McCall, Andy McLeod, Carmen Munroe, Anna Maria Nabirye, Topher Naylor, Kate Sawyer, Sakuntala Ramanee, Gary Richards, Joss Wyre, Christopher York.

Director: Mark Leipacher
Producer: Rachel Valentine Smith
Lighting Designer: Chris Withers
Fight Director: Kevin McCurdy
Voice Coach: William Trotter
Associate Producer: Will Bourdillon
Company Stage Manager: Suzie Foster
Stage Manager: Roshan Conn
Dramaturgy: Gareth Jandrell

Tuesday 5th January to Saturday 6th February at 19:30
Saturday Matinees 15:00
New Diorama Theatre
15-16 Triton Street, Regents Place, London, NW1 3BF