Richard III, Shakespeare’s famous play of treachery and teeming ambition is vividly revamped by the Australian Shakespeare Company in Richard III: Unhinged.
The Australian Shakespeare Company’s rendition of the royal crown “so foul misplaced”, delineates the story of a perfidious villain hell-bent on seizing the crown of England. As the play progresses, Richard weaves a tangled web of lies and deceit which envelope and destroy his family members as he endeavours to rise to the throne.
Renowned for using the Melbourne Botanical Gardens as the backdrop for their performances, the Australian Shakespeare Company have moved their performance of Richard III: Unhinged indoors to the Athenaeum Theatre. Director Glenn Elston punctuates the duration of the play and volumes of concentrated Shakespearean dialogue with resourceful stage directions and the inventive movement of the actors around the stage. The dynamic use of the space within the Athenaeum Theatre, in addition to creative set design, introduce another exciting element to the Australian Shakespeare Company’s performance. Characters leap from the audience, dialogue is announced from balconies overhead and the unexpected entrance and exit of characters from the stage doors keep the performance well-paced throughout the show.
Richard III: Unhinged owes a great deal of its fluency to Brendan O’Connor’s inventive and roguish rendering of Richard III. Adroitly shifting between a sycophant and brutish conniver, Richard lurks in the shadows, deranged and wicked, watching gleefully as his schemes unravel. Over the course of Richard III: Unhinged, the audience is presented with the many contortions of Richard: he is variously “benevolent”, manipulative, grotesque and sinister. His constant disclosures to the audience, provide a window into his wicked mind, heightening the play’s suspense and rendering the story all the more accessible.
The post-intermission half of Richard III: Unhinged is certainly stronger, with the play gathering momentum with each character that Richard maniacally “knocks off”. A notable scene is the Australian Shakespeare Company’s outstanding execution of Richard’s nightmare in which he is tormented by the ghosts of those he has massacred who rhythmically implore him to “despair and die”.
The Australian Shakespeare Company’s Richard III: Unhinged is a witty and sleek production which brilliantly stages a “winter of discontent” for everyone, except the audience.
Australian Shakespeare Company presents
Richard III - Unhinged
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins Street Melbourne
Dates: Tuesday-Sunday, May 16 to June 1
Schools: 11am Wednesday and Thursday May 19, 20, 26, 27
Bookings: 1300 122 344 or Ticketmaster 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au