"Riveting story in delightful surroundings"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 01/07/14

St Paul’s churchyard is the glorious sylvan setting for one of Shakespeare’s goriest plays – and gore certainly abounds in this production. From the first terrifying and brilliantly orchestrated battle of Tewkesbury to the body of Richard laid out on the altar, it is blood, blood all the way in this platform performance..

David Hywel Baynes was surely born to play Richard and it is sure that his style of performance would have been instantly appealing to the author. He ha made himself into a truly grotesque creature with a limp, the biggest hump I have ever seen and a crooked body that is almost bent in two on his first appearance in the battle – a scene borrowed from Henry 6th – where he murders the young Lancastrian prince and becomes the target of Queen Margaret’s curses. Curses that are fulfilled one by one as the play progresses. Bayne’s weaselly Richard manages to catch and hold the affection of the audience with his only redeeming features – his sense of humour, his charming self deprecations and the utter enjoyment with which he plans his villainy. He asks us to empathise with him in the resentment which has bred his hatred of mankind and his ambition to conquer. We can be amused at the loving kindness he shows to his friends and relations whilst plotting their extinction.

Last year Bayne was Brutus, the noblest Roman of them all and this performance shows his amazing versatility. Also outstanding is Nick Howard Brown who was a stunning Cassius last year and plays Clarence, Richard’s loving brother. He is heartbreaking in his awful disillusionment when he finds out Richard's true feelings and evil intentions towards him. Laura Wickham returns as a powerful Queen Elizabeth and Anne Marie Piazza is an unusually feisty Lady Anne.

But as always with the Iris theatre Company, the acting throughout is excellent and the casting first class even though many of the actors have to play multiple roles. Even one of the greatest female parts in the canon - Queen Margaret - has to be played by a man – however it is magnificently handled by Mark Hawkins who also plays the assassin Catesby.

One of the greatest things to applaud in Daniel Winders productions is the extreme clarity of the diction. All the roles are played at full strength throughout – just as they must have been in the original versions in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
A great and entertaining production – a riveting story worked with perfect clarity in exquisite surroundings. One of the most delightful ways to spend a summer evening in the Capital.

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