Antic Disposition’s Richard III review at Temple Church, London – ‘fast-paced and funny’
Following a tour of UK cathedrals, Antic Disposition brings Richard III to one of London’s oldest churches. The historic setting makes a nice contrast to the contemporary staging (although, disappointingly, this modern take isn’t reflected in a diverse cast) and directors Ben Horslen and John Risebero work well in the limitations of the space. Props are in short supply but smartly used, and there are some lovely touches: the gradual amassing of the dead, cluttering the small stage as Richard’s body count rises, is particularly effective.
Toby Manley’s Richard is sly and charismatic but, like the production as a whole, better with humour than menace. In a solid cast, Joe Eyre shines as Buckingham, an adept schemer who anticipates everything but his own downfall, and Robert Nairne’s Catesby is pleasingly villainous, while Charles Neville has fun as the Mayor of London in a deliberately terrible blond wig (who could he be?). The always problematic wooing scene between Richard and Anne (Bryony Tebbutt) fails to convince entirely, although in its equally tricky echo with Elizabeth, Jess Nesling captures a real sense of the queen’s loss.
The tale of a megalomaniac willing to throw even his closest allies under the bus to save himself has never felt more timely, but while this fast-paced production captures the slick scheming that propels Richard to power, it never fully renders the darkness that drives him – the void at his heart. So, for all its pleasures, it falls short of being truly memorable.