Adaptation: Emily Carding and Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir from William Shakespeare
Director: Emily Carding and Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir
Reviewer: Harriet Brace
A Machiavellian masterpiece, Richard III is an epic tale of ambition, betrayal and bloodshed. Yet Brite Theater’s one-woman adaptation of the giant play brings the story to life in a way that’s intelligent, relatable, and brilliant.
One of Shakespeare’s greatest successes, with multiple reincarnations on stage and screen, the play features perhaps the Bard’s most brutal and self-promoting villain – the “subtle and treacherous” Richard.
Born into an era of notorious royal bloodshed in the name of the crown, and with a deformity that makes him an outcast from court society, Richard’s ambition sees him weasel his way to advancement with clever allegiances and indiscriminate violence.
Richard’s indifference to butchery is such that it can be difficult for an audience to empathise with even his most sensitive moments. But Brite Theater’s production goes above and beyond merely engaging – by including the audience in Richard’s circle of frenemies, and having Richard pick them off one by one.
The play itself is like a murder mystery so deranged that the murderer is clear, but no-one dares to accuse – and time is called on someone new by the second.
Emily Carding’s depiction of Richard makes the production electric; enticingly sly and precise, with devious and conspiratorial glances around her audience as if sizing them up for slaughter. She embodies Richard’s intensifying self-importance in the way she moves, decisively striding around the stage and addressing even the King with self-satisfied scorn.
Carding narrates the somewhat complicated context with wit and assurance – compounded by her sharp ability to react to unscripted quips by members of the audience invited to be part of the action. Even her movements echo Richard’s motivations and compounding insecurities perfectly. We see her self-assured strides and commanding stares eventually shrink to more hesitant, slithering motions and paralysing expressions at Richard’s wretched acceptance of his own blood-soaked legacy.
Brite Theater’s Richard III is utterly unique, compelling and above all, fun. True to Shakespeare’s infamous tale, yet with a tongue in cheek attitude and clever nods to the modern political era, the production deserves the kind of acclaim coveted by Richard himself.
Runs until 14 April 2018 | Image: Contributed