Friday, October 19, 2012

Richard III

I watched the BBC Shakespeare's Richard III. I have to say I felt it was a bit lackluster, overall. Ron Cook is a naturally likable actor, and he gave a credible performance in the title role. One certainly can't accuse him of being "hammy". But I didn't think his portrayal had the psychological complexity necessary to truly make sense of the character, and to make him a riveting-if-repulsive being. I must say, this is a long, talky play, the longest in the entire BBC series, so long it's the only play to be put on two DVDs. A little ham from the title role -- as Kevin Spacey has reportedly been serving up recently -- would go a long way to making this huge meal more palatable.

Cook's death scene was quite unusual. Would it truly be possible to die kneeling, and not fall over? It was a very odd choice. As Richard was speared repeatedly by various soldiers, he seemed to be "The Thing That Wouldn't Die". And when Richmond delivered the final blow, Richard fell to his knees and...just stayed there. Weird.

But kudos to director Jane Howell for a truly chilling epilogue, with a very powerful final image, and for a cohesive overall approach to Shakespeare's War of the Roses saga.

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