I think Richard, presented by Belgian company La Compagnie Des Chemins De Terre is meant to be funny (ha-ha).  Unfortunately, I found it to be too funny peculiar to really enjoy it.  Performed by Stéphane Georis, it was a mesh of street theatre, over the top performance and what looked like improvisation.

In just over 60 minutes, the audience is treated to truncated extractions of three of Shakespeare’s plays; Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III. In between each play, we are exposed to the character of Richard, teacher of literature. I found this character the most off-putting and annoying. Georis portrays him as shy, stupid person, prone to messing up his words. It was embarrassing as it felt like we were watching amateur children’s theatre where the cast are trying their best but ultimately failing. Some audience members thought it was hilarious. I was not one of them.

In his interpretation of Hamlet, superhero Ricky attempts to save the world with a basketball as his helmet. Ultimately he kept failing and asking “To be or not to be?... This is not to be.” Hamlet appears briefly, created out of ripped newspaper.

His version of Romeo and Juliet was more detailed. Using various items of his clothes, he created the two heads of the family, playing all characters in a fast and furious story. Romeo and Juliet are two red gloves, which he deftly moved around the table creating some cute tableaus.

Richard III was by far the most interesting, even though Georis got his facts wrong (Prince Edward died before his father Henry Sixth). Using a slab of meat he proceeded to carve it up according to the Lancastrian and York family. Naming each piece of meat, he then proceeded to become Richard III - humpback and all with a piece of meat covering his face - and destroy the other pieces of meat. It was an effective, if rudimental, retelling of not only Richard III, but Henry 6th Part 1, 2 and 3.

As his story of Richard III drew to a close, I realised that all three plays end with death. This seemed to be the moral of the performance, as Georis turned to the audience and questioned why we always had to kill each other. Another recurring line, presented to the audience by way of an upside down kettle with eyes drawn on it, was; “Life is worthless, and worthless is life.” They were two touching moments in an otherwise silly performance.

The music and lighting were fairly simple, reminiscent of Georis’ street theatre background. The character of Ricky had predicable superhero music, whilst his portrayal of Richard III was accompanied by a song about solitude. Georis made good use of a multifunctional butchers table, pulling items out of drawers and making new settings out of it. The few books he used opened up to reveal all sorts of goods including carving knives and food.

Overall, I did not enjoy this performance. It may work as street theatre, although I doubt Georis would capture an Australian streets attention for long. Although there were elements of interest and clever moments, Richard was not a stand out production.

La Compagnie des Chemins de Terre
Richard (Le Polichineur D'ecritoire)

Venue: Perth Concert Hall | Wardle Room
Dates: Thursday 10 to Saturday 12 April
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing on 9484 1133

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