Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Outside In at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

The 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.
The 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.
And, as ever, facial expressions were often hard to read by candlelight.
But 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. The wonderful Old Gaunt [William Gaunt – casting as perfect in person as it must have seemed on paper] spoke the lines with grave sensitivity.
Simon 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.

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