Richard III by Sedos

Richard III is Sedos’ latest foray into the world of Shakespeare and this production takes the history books and turns it into a modern day political drama. The warring families become Prime Ministers and their cabinet members as well as those pulling the strings behind the scenes. The show charts Richards rise to power, pulling out parallels between him and the likes of Boris Johnson and charts King Edwards demise as it draws parrallels with them and Teresa May. Wars become elections and nobility become MP’s in this well considered production.

Director Dan Edge leans into these themes well and it really draws out the power struggles between the differing factions. The choice of reoccurring news bulletins being flashed up on large TV’s and across the back wall really help to hammer home important plot points and make this play much more accessible to those that may not typically be a fan of the Bard. The back section of the stage also transforms into an instantly recognisable news studio, used for interviews with some of the big players which is one again an ingenious way to modernise the setting.

Changing the setting to a political one did however make it harder to follow some of the familial relationships harder to follow and the frequent references to death within the script are at odds with the political undertones. The audience soon learn not to take the references to death and murder too literally and the changes mean that what is normally ghostly visits become Richards old political opponents appearing in news reports in support of the opposition. Dan Edge, the director of this production must be commended for his vision and the success in executing it.

Due to the nature of the play there was a large cast with varying ability to carry off the Shakespeare naturally. Sam Sugarman played the role of Richard and was wonderfully convincing with his Machiavellian and scheming ways being able to switch personas with ease as the political players came and went in his presence, commanding the attention throughout. Karina Zakharyan played kingmaker Catesby, the Dominic Cummings figure of the piece and their behind the scenes wranglings were perfectly pitched, distinct from the pomp and bluster of the politicians around them. Buckingham, Richard’s ally until the end was played by Audrey Lindsay who captured the cunningness and poise needed to make the moves needed in Westminster. At times some of the acting choices by a few of the other cast members looked a little forced, like playing at politics but this was by far outweighed by the majority of the cast who played multiple roles throughout the show and did so with ease.

The technical elements of the show were very well considered and there were moments where what we saw on stage was being broadcast to the TV’s above our heads. Technically a smooth production with the lighting design by Will Lake adding atmosphere by focusing our attention with smaller pools of light. There were points when the set changes, in particular tables were being moved over the action and consequently some of the dialogue was lost but this is a minor niggle. The structures above our head gave a feeling of grandeur, implying that we were in Westminster. I would have loved to have seen more hints of Westminster in the rest of the piece, from the sound design including the hustle and bustle of Parliament such as the division bell, the speakers call for order or the sounds of Big Ben through to some of the set dressing in the Commons colours.

This production of Richard III is a very interesting take on it, performed by accomplished actors. If you are interested in both Shakespeare or politics then it is a unique production which is well worth seeing.

To find out more about Richard III and Sedos’ future productions you can visit their website here.

If you like this review you might also like my review of some of Sedos’ past productions including Just So, The Effect and Titanic The Musical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *