Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Richard II at The Old Vic

A good week so far. Work has been quiet; no fires to fight, so I’ve been getting on with productive stuff.

Monday’s rehearsal was fun. I’d been feeling pretty tired but it perked me up quite a bit. We seem to be making good progress on the repertoire and it is going to sound good.

Yesterday was the one day of the week when I could cycle to work and it was also the one morning where it rained. Actually it drizzled. The kind of heavy drizzle which soaks you but doesn’t wash off any of the road dirt from the bike. Still, it was a pleasant journey home…

Tonight we went to see Kevin Spacey in Richard II at The Old Vic. Despite other mediocre ‘Hollywood celebrity’ shows we’ve seen recently, this one was rather good. The production was laden with the symbolism of the play, which examines the Divine Right of Kings, from the regal Zadok, The Priest, playing during the opening robing of the King (very reminiscent of The Madness of George III!), to the Blair-esque Bolingbroke declining the crown but accepting the sceptre to the strains of Fanfare for the Common Man, to the final image of the Crown of State, spot-lit on the King’s coffin, as the rest of the stage faded into darkness. The cast was strong and Spacey held his own among them, far more than Sean Bean in Macbeth did a year or two ago. The production by Trevor Nunn was visually very impressive; simple sets which often blurred the distinction between the historic setting and the contemporary interpretation; the nobles who could have been the hereditary peer of your choice from the modern House of Lords, replete with appropriate regional accents, added depth and colour to Shakespeare’s endless succession of dukes and earls.

My only complaints were that the dialogue was taken at a fairly rapid pace, which sometimes made it hard to get your head around the nuances of the prose (although even going apace, the show still lasted over three hours!) Also, although the cast were strong, many of them didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves when they were bystanders in a scene and tended to desperately overact doing nothing.

Nevertheless: a play worth seeing and I’m glad we got to do it. It’s running until the 26th of November if you get the chance to see it.

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