Richard III at Shakespeare's Globe was always going to have to pull out all the stops purely because it's The Globe. I'm not fond of the venue - uncomfortable seating, distracting audience, to name just two of my regular complaints although on this rare occasion I can't say it was cold as it was a beautiful summer's afternoon.
It was the draw of Mark Rylance which had me parting with cash, perhaps he would succeed in distracting me from the discomfort and the distractions*. And he did, at times.
His Richard was definitely playing for laughs, not so much evil but a cheeky scoundrel who does abhorrent things. Quite mild and gentle in his manner only succumbing to rage late into his downfall. And perhaps he was a little too gentle, he didn't feel as dangerous as Richard should.
There was something of his Jerusalem character Rooster in his performance which surprised me as I was expecting something quite different.
Of course this being Shakespeare's Globe this is a Richard about as traditional as you can get with the cast in Jacobean garb**, minimal props and no sets to speak of. But aside from the live music and the traditional song and dance at the end it just felt lacking.
Maybe I've just got accustomed to all the thrills and spills that normally accompany Shakespeare on a big stage, although the Richard III I saw in Stratford last week was similarly sparse in set and props but that still felt exciting and engaging. There is something quite cartoon-like about actors in Jacobean costume, it just conjures up pictures of Shakespeare caricatures and ultimate it just doesn't satisfy.
I'm seeing it again - for reasons to tedious to explain - and from a slightly different angle and in the evening so it is getting a second chance but for now it is just reinforcing my view that The Globe is a tourist gimmick, somewhere to go once to say you've done it and then move on indoors to theatres that are a little more modern in design.
Not even the wonderful Samuel Barnett and Johnny Flynn in frocks could lift this to anything out of the ordinary so I'm going to give it 3.5 stars. That might be slightly harsh and the venue does play a big part in that but without the chance to see it from my favourite position, seats near the stage and indoors, I can only judge it by the whole experience at the time.
Richard III runs in rep at Shakespeare's Globe until Oct 13.
Production photo: Simon Annand
* A woman, goodness knows what planet she was on, decided it would be OK to bring a baby along. Yes a gurgling, baby noise baby. Eventually I think she succumbed to all the stares she was getting and left. This is why I don't like outdoor theatre because all the normal rules of theatre etiquette seem to get thrown out of the window.
** Not all productions at the Globe are performed in Jacobean costume (thanks @mzendle)
Easy one this because the fabulous Samuel Barnett was in this production - looking fab in an Elizabethan frock and he was in Bright Star with Mr W.