"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
In at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
pomp and the pageantry are largely missing from this experimental
move indoors for the “tourist friendly” Richard II currently
playing to a packed, appreciative yard in the Wooden O next door.
opening coronation was solemn but low-key; minions with banners in
the galleries looked cramped, the knock-about fun with the unmasking
of Aumerle was farcically crammed onto the tiny stage.
as ever, facial expressions were often hard to read by candlelight.
there were plenty of compensations – Charles Edwards' superficial,
self-centred king was very present in this intimate arena; his light
touch with the text sounded confidential and carefree. And
the transition from entitlement to despair was movingly suggested.
wonderful Old Gaunt [William Gaunt – casting as perfect in person
as it must have seemed on paper] spoke the lines with grave
Godwin's spirited production glosses over many of the complexities in
Shakespeare's history play – but this rare opportunity to look into
the heart of the piece made a valuable companion to the pomp and the
bombast of the open-air experience.