I confess I am a serial return visitor to the Globe in London. I always try and go once a season. This year I really wanted to catch Twelfth Night with Stephen Fry but that was all sold out. So instead I booked tickets to see Richard III and I have to say I am so pleased that I got the tickets as I can honestly say that Richard III is the best Shakespearian play I have seen at the Globe.
I did not realise what a wordy play was for the principle playing Richard. With the exception of 2 scenes and the last where he is dead on the floor Richard is on stage for all or most of the Play.
Our Richard was played by Mark Rylance. His depiction of Shakespeare’s controversial Richard was excellent. One doesn’t necessarily expect a history play to be humorous as well as tragic, in many ways it is the ultimate Shakespeare play.
Rylance played the tragic tyrant well showing him as human with frailty, a man on the edge, a man who was ambitious and would so anything to achieve his goals in fact we see humanity itself in Richard.
I loved also that we experience the true Shakespearian experience with an all male cast. That is the first time I have experienced that at the Globe.
But of course as a historian I do have some issues with the play. In fact it is this play that dictates the image of Richard the first that we all know. With a Tudor monarch on the throne, Elizabeth I, the granddaughter and of the lineage of Henry VII who defeated Richard III to claim the throne the audience would have been Pro Tudor and anti Richard. The “historie” plays were never supposed to be accurate just an entertaining way of teaching or even royalist propaganda for all society.
Richards deformity as a hunchback with a withered hand meant something to the audience the fact that at the end of the play he goes mad, giving away his kingdom for a horse, the fact he killed kin and children to get his throne these themes are echoed in Macbeth and would have been enjoyed by the audience.
All in all I can say I would give my king for an opportunity to see this version of Richard III again. Mark Rylance stole the show and the best performance I have seen at the globe. Go see it if you can!!