RAW: Richard III – AC Arts – 4K

The role of Shakespeare’s Richard is as demanding as any – anger, self pity, nuanced scheming – but playing it as a member of the opposite gender only compounds the task. Matilda Bailey overcomes these hurdles and presents herself as a name to look for and a career to watch. With perhaps too much beauty for the vicious and deformed king to be, Bailey possesses a great ability to make penetrating eye contact with members of her audience and carried her physical burdens for the part – hunch back and withered arm on the left, club foot on the right – without any sense of them being props. A stunning performance.

Chelsea Evans as Anne was also a standout amongst the female players.

Of the guys (playing guys), Matt Gregan (as Buckingham) was probably the strongest but he certainly gets the nod for the best hairstyle of the show – a slicked back breaker bordering on a mane – and for the best dying moments. Adam Cirillo as the measured Richmond also does well and he is certain to make his mark in the world one day in a Queen revival playing Freddie Mercury.

In his notes, director Terence Crawford defends the use of females in male parts by saying ‘in an acting school, the only alternative to [playing females in male parts] are to either discriminate against women, and cast them around the edges of the play while the guys take the leading roles, or not do the plays.’ There can be no doubt that in the acting school environment that is entirely appropriate and indeed use of someone of the opposite gender in the lead role may be considered inspired but for an audience such overwhelming use as was the case here can tend to lead to confusion.

Not that any should be dissuaded from attending for that. For when any confusion sets in, time can be usefully spent admiring the staging. Use of a sloping main performing area, with haunting use of spot lights in the closing scenes, reminds one of some Danny Boyle production in the West End of London rather more than the west end of Adelaide. The complimentary use of colours in the clothing worked well, as did the moveable screens that heralded arrivals and closed out departures from the stage.

All up, this a worthy rendition of Richard III, with abundant young talent on show in the cast and the crew. Terry Crawford needs to be congratulated for the production and Matilda Bailey needs to be added to any theatre goers’ watch list for the future.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

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