Reviewed by Sally Putnam
The Adelaide University Theatre Guild’s production of Richard III shows it remains a play for today; political allegiances, plotting, assassinations and manipulation of the public through spin. Megan Dansie has set the play in a contemporary place and time and costumed it in a way that doesn’t jar with the language. Jason Ankles achieved a great effect through his clever combination of imagery, symbols and phrases from the play in a graffiti style of wall painting.
The scene is set and Gloucester appears, riddled with old grudges, hatreds and long held ambitions. Bart Csorba captured and held his audience from the moment of his entrance. His own clarity of understanding of the role and language shone through and took the audience with him. Csorba presented a charismatic yet deeply flawed man, who lost the battle with his own fears as they turned to paranoia and affected his decision-making.
The two queen mothers played by Rachel Burford and Celine O’Leary were outstanding. O’Leary portrayed a worldly, strong and dignified woman, who was able to challenge and frighten Richard. Her confrontation of Richard in the second half was one of the highlights of the play. Burford’s performance was passionate and equally compelling.
This is a huge cast, where almost everyone plays two roles. It is a uniformly strong group of actors many of whom demonstrated the old saying that ‘there are no small roles’, Tony Busch produced a masterful Tyrell. Cate Rogers gave a delightful performance as the Mayor of London. Miriam Keane was a believably loyal and dedicated political organiser. Gary George was an authoritative Buckingham and Sam Rogers as Richmond gave an impressive call to arms.
Dansie’s clear direction was clear and consistent. That the majority of actors made sense of the Shakespearian language and had a clear understanding of their role and character was a tribute to her direction.