Richard III performance

Week 6

Saw Richard III performed by Bell Shakespeare

Key differences

  •  The extreme characterisation of Richard III through the casting of a woman to play the murderous, hunchbacked king. Apparently this was not a choice made on her gender, but on her ability to portray an evil, deformed king – which I think she did very well. She suffered from a cancer in her back which deformed her spine, giving her uneven leg-lengths and major back pain.
    • I find her story inspiring and (to a degree) very relatable. It is admirable how far she has come and much she has overcome.
  • The stage setting seemed to be inspired by the 1920s, similarly to the group’s performance of Othello where both their costuming and set design were inspired by the 1940s war-time clothing. The costuming (for Richard III that is)  was much more modern, with vintage twists for characterisation. For example, Queen Elizabeth’s dress was a rich tangerine velvet with a deep neckline and with a figure eccentuating red velvet stomach (which reminded me personally of the line from the Duchess of York as she curses her womb as a bed of death). The couched embroidery and trailling bustle gave the Queen a sense of regality – the train and, eventually, the bustle itself dissapeared in correlation with Richard becaming more dominating and with the queen herself becoming more helpless.
    • It is dissapointing that Shakespeare didn’t write too much on costuming, I’ll have to save my enthusiasism for the film.

How has this helped me in my study of Richard III

  • By witnessing the Bell Shakespear group perform Richard III I was able to see how the different characters would have interacted and were positioned on a stage. It has given me a better understanding than I would have achieved from simply reading/listening to the play’s script or a watching film adaptation. Although Bell Shakespeare presented an original performance of the play, it has still aided me in envisioning the set up and procession of the play.
  • After watching the play performed, I feel as though I am now more capable of identifying play-specific techniques and their true effects. When going through the script again I will be able to see how such a scene would have played out.


Image: My own (Edited with PicsArt) which included the postcard promoting the play.


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