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Review - The Tragedy of King Richard III: frolicking excavation

The cast and crew live it up at the after party. Photo by Deanne Scott.

More after party shots follow the review.

The Tragedy of King Richard III

By Marcel Dorney and Daniel Evans

Based on the play by William Shakespeare

Directed by Daniel Evans

La Boite Theatre Company

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove Brisbane

Season: May 21-June 11. Bookings: or (07) 30078600 9 am-5 pm Mon-Fri.

The first thing to say is that this is NOT Williams Shakespeare’s play, well there are bits of it slipped in every so often and Will himself makes an appearance, but is frolicking “excavation” of the King himself.

The idea came after King Richard’s actual remains were found in the UK city of Leicester in 2012. A car park was being built on part of the city that used to be Bosworth Field the place of the battle that ended his short rule.

The play was produced in the round with a square stage that in very quickly was covered in blood, which managed to find its way onto all the actors involved. Then there was water and even a soaking rain, so all the actors copped a pretty damp evening.

The action switched between heavy drama, straight slapstick, some juvenile comedy moments, and a lot of action with fights, beatings, murders, and torture. Young Atticus Robb was outstanding as the at first hesitant and then arrogant young man who coveted the crown so much he was prepared to kill for it.

The script hovered between modern – very modern with the fabulous intro monologue by Naomi Price who demanded all mobile phones to be turned off – not on silent mind you, but “OFF”.

She also used the voice that too her a long way in the TV show to sing a couple of numbers

Marcel Dorney and Daniel Evans’ 90 minute script contrasted Shakespeare’s version of the crookback “monster” to the few facts that have emerged over the centuries.

The ensemble cast – Helen Howard, Amy Ingram, Todd Macdonald, Pacharo Mzembe, Naomi Price, Atticus Robb and Peter Rowland romped through the action giving the audience plenty of chances to laugh and at the same time to tense as drama unfolded. They slipped into many different roles with ease and, despite the uncomfortable looking conditions, took the audience through the rise and fall of Richard with ease.

Helen Howard always creates a powerful Shakespearean character and in this one she managed several!

Todd Macdonald featured in one of my favourite bits – he played Shakespeare workshopping Richard III on the Globe stage with the aid of a dramaturge. Anyone who has ever written a play would recognise the frantic action and talk as characters evolved.

The cast ended the show bloody and soaked, but unbowed, to a rapturous standing ovation from a packed house.

It moved quickly and the audience loved it, but is it a play for seasons?

I would say “no”. If you are a Shakespeare purist, give it a miss, and if your choice of theatre is conservative you won’t like this one. To my mind it is a production that is something special for younger people. It is movie-length, has quick changing scenes and characterisations, some well-place bad language and a lot of action.

I enjoyed some of the show but not all; however I rate it a success. We need shows that draw young people into theatres and create discerning audiences for tomorrow. There are plenty of plays and musicals for the conservatives every day of week.

I say give a big welcome to writers who aim for difference.

The cast get into the dancing mood.

La Boite life member Muriel Watson with grandson Samuel and his wife Nadia.

Above: Eric Scott with Labor Party candidate for Brisbane Patrick O'Neill and right Todd Macdonald with his mum.

Photographer photographed: Deanne Scott with husband Eric and Adam Brunes

Atticus Robb and Peter Rowland ham it up for the camera.

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