REVIEW: Richard III - New Diorama

Richard III - The Faction (New Diorama)

I was looking forward to this: great reviews, four stars, lots of hype, etc. Maybe this was one of my problems with it - it failed to live up to my expectations. The Faction have an excellent reputation, and perhaps, again, this was one of the issues I had with this production, as I was hoping for something spectacular.

Starting with something positive, Christopher York was very good as Gloucester, depicting the tortured villainy of the character with a mature confidence. I especially liked that while the character felt strong and in control, he stood straight and proud, yet contorting his body into a macabre hunchback when the character was subordinate or under attack. His vocalisation was clear and he held the production together with aplomb.

Also positive; Topher Naylor as a comedic Catesby, Carmen Munroe as a glitteringly powerful Duchess, and Alexander Guiney's beautifully rich-voiced Tyrell.

However, I can't say the same for several of the other actors, whose voices were unclear, mumbling phrases or whispering (which I guess was for dramatic emphasis, but there is a difference between a stage whisper and an actual, underneath your breath whisper.) which led to me not empathising at all with characters who should, really, be among the most empathic in the play.

I understand, textually, why Kate Sawyer's Elizabeth was practically in fancy dress while the rest of the actors were in contemporary clothing, but visually it jarred. Equally jarring; the physical theatre sections. At one point my partner quietly commented that it looked like a high school play, and there were several points where I personally felt that the physicality of the cast was extraneous, completely unnecessary.

The sound design was very clever and perfectly synchronised, but again I felt was unnecessary at times, and occasionally became distracting. The lighting was, similarly, very clever and striking at times but conversely, I felt, not used to full advantage at others.

I applaud The Faction for what they were trying to do, and I loved the diversity of the cast, but overall I think that a strong idea was let down by mediocre execution, and apart from a few flashes of brilliance, left me feeling extremely underwhelmed.


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