Richard III, Shakespeare's tale of a brilliant, scheming hunchback who murders and seduces his way to the throne. The final chapter of the War of the Roses, Richard III dramatizes the life of one of the most diabolical and manipulative, yet charming and witty villains in Shakespeare's canon. Embittered by his own physical deformities, the power-hungry Richard will stop at nothing to gain control of England, seducing and murdering his way to the throne.
" Sadie Frost, a forlorn and even touching Lady Anne ... Carl Prekopp's sallow Richard, who comes across as a wary, watchful, cool, creepy executive who will stop at nothing to become the all-powerful president of England plc. His humour is downbeat, as befits a smooth man in a grey suit. When he says of Anne, “I'll have her but not keep her long”, we might be hearing a cynical tycoon in a film by Neil LaBute. Richard is not the bottled spider or poisonous toad that others claim. His deformities at first seem slight, no more than a limp and a hand that obsessively grips a lapel, but they're more pronounced when he gets the top job and, with it, the insecurity of power. He lurches, scuttles, twists, he even squirms on the table that is pretty much the only decor. Prekopp's voice, quietly confident at first, bursts out in paranoia and rage. I felt I'd been seeing a young actor with a most interesting future. ... Matthew Sim is an outrageously bitchy Queen Margaret as well as an earnest Stanley, and Jonathan Warde is not only Clarence's prison warden but both his murderers. Still, Gerard McDermott hops effectively from Clarence himself to Hastings, Simon Yadoo is a robust Buckingham — and it all comes across as clearly as one of the great English stories should. " - Benidict Nightingale, The Times
Kidd's modern-dress production, played out on a bare stage except for a large table that doubles as a coffin and boardroom-style desk, may be rough and ready, but it is racy and understands the cut and thrust of political intrigue. It has a Richard, played by Carl Prekopp, who is the office joke and so manages to achieve a boardroom takeover almost without anyone noticing. For a while he carries his twisted arm across his chest so it looks as if he is giving two fingers to the entire world. Prekopp is excellent as he turns from loser to monster: conversational, reasonable, a master at making everyone around him – including the audience – complicit in his rise. It is amazing how quickly murder starts to seem like the reasonable option. Matthew Sim is outstanding as the Cassandra-like Queen Margaret, and Candida Benson fine as the outmanoeuvred Queen Elizabeth making the leap from suited executive to bereaved parent. Jonathan Warde's Tyrell unpacks his backpack with sorrow every time he is called to do his murderous duty. There are other nice touches, including the doomed princes draped in their school blazers. Subtle, no; but it certainly grabs you by the scruff of the neck. " - Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
" Following the not-so-distant triumph of the RSC's The Histories season, where Richard III was performed with a full back-story provided by the Henry trilogy, it is almost a relief to find that the play can still be a successful stand-alone, even if Richard's character must necessarily seem a bit of a one-dimensional tyrant. Gratitude, then, to Love&Madness (founded by Artistic Director and actor Neil Sheppeck), a company that gives bold and new interpretations of classical works and, as part of their 'Desire&Destruction' season at the Riverside, provide a modern-dress Richard that makes the political machinations of the medieval court seem ever so close to our own world. Director Ben Kidd and his team present a fast-paced and thoughtful production that remains largely faithful to the text that we know, particularly in Act 1. That Act 2 contains much new dialogue does not detract from a work that, in any case, is itself a fictional representation of a much-maligned monarch. Some ingenious doubling allows this hard-working cast of nine to seem much bigger than it is: Gerard McDermott makes a convincing transition from doomed Clarence to equally doomed Lord Hastings, and it is a case of trebling for Jonathan Warde who gives individuality to courtly Rivers, murderous Tyrell, and a young Prince Edward replete with schoolboy jacket, soft drink and straw. A playfulness with gender successfully introduces Sarah Bedi as a female Catesby, an efficient PA with red clip-board ever in hand as Yorkist plots are conceived; and allows Matthew Sim to grace the stage in grand-dame style as Margaret, embittered matriarch and usurped Queen. It is inspired casting that falls just the right side of male-drag to create a believable woman of mature years, cursing yet dignified. It never fails to amaze me how some actors are able to make Elizabethan language trip off the tongue and Simon Yadoo, as a cigarette-smoking Buckingham, is a master. Neil Sheppeck is nicely bewildered as the house-of-cards collapses around his King Edward, and doubles in the saviour-persona of Richmond. Statuesque Candida Benson imbues Queen Elizabeth with an initial haughtiness, an increasing unease, and a final succumbing to crumpled grief in an interpretation that almost steals the show from Carl Prekopp's Richard - but not quite. It is a memorable performance, Prekopp's pale face fitting for the morgue-like atmospherics of the auditorium, his twisted frame of a fragility that heightens his status as human powerhouse where exploding rage meets mendacious reflection. The actor never forgets to catch the eye of his audience: somehow, we are on his side. A brave, new, and welcome addition to the cycle of Richard III productions. " - British Theatre Guide.
" The second production in the Love&Madness residency at Riverside Studios is a modern-dress mounting of one of Shakespeare's finest and most oft-quoted history plays. Carl Prekopp 's Richard falls somewhere between Ian Dury and Alistair Campbell – a suit-sporting smooth talker replete with polio limp and a left hand that seems to be afflicted with Dupuytren's contracture. It's a good interpretation ... In fact, Ben Kidd 's production is a tidy package all round, featuring a moody electro soundscape (by Sam Ward) and a powerhouse performance from Matthew Sim as Queen Margeret – the play's dark heart who snaffles many of the best lines (“Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider” sends shivers down the spine). Sim, along with most of the nine-strong company, is double cast. This works to mixed effect – Neil Sheppeck does fine work with King Edward and Richmond ... Candida Benson gives a masterclass in grief-stricken acquiescence as Queen Elizabeth. " - What's On Stage.