Already Associate Director at the Royal Court, director Simon Godwin has been working his way around the bastions of British classical theatre; in 2013 he directed Anne Marie Duff in Strange Interlude, his first show for the National Theatre, and 2014 saw his debut at the RSC with a very well received production of the notoriously difficult Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Shakespeare’s history plays have been enjoying somewhat of a resurgence of late, with Richard II seeing the famous faces of both Ben Whishaw and David Tennant wearing his crown.
Godwin's production sees Charles Edwards in the lead role, powerfully embodying the naïvety and self-absorption of the wayward King and proving himself a fine Shakespearian actor. Edwards adopts the role of Richard with an eccentric regality and comic panache that at times lapses into caricature, but adds to the tragedy of the Richard figure who, though a vastly unsuitable King, is ultimately loveable in his own fallibility.
Richard's disturbing and unprecedented 'decoronation' and later, the unfavourable parallels drawn between Shakespeare's Richard and Elizabeth I provide intriguing historical context to the play, stressing the increasingly archaic notion of divine right of Kings and upheaval triggered by the selfish actions of the Queen's power-hungry ancestors.
A strong and stoical performance comes from David Sturzaker as Richard's populist rival Bolingbroke. Whilst some of the supporting roles lapse into the realms of melodrama, Godwin has successfully revitalised one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays for his contemporary audience.
With a number of the ostensibly tragic scenes reimagined as comic leaves the overall tone slightly unclear, jarring with the tragedy of a naïve King destroyed by his own vanity, Godwin's production is enjoyable, accessible and makes for an intriguing addition to the Globe's new Justice and Mercy season.
|Richard II, The Globe
|The Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT | MAP
|London Bridge (underground)
11 Jul 15 – 18 Oct 15, Performance times to be confirmed.
|Click here for more information from the Globe's website