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2012 - Shakespeare's contemporaries get in on the act

Reviews of Eddie Redmayne's Richard II trickle in (more reviews added)

I saw Michael Grandage's last play at the Donmar on Monday night and gave it four stars because, for me, there was something missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on. 

Now the professionals are having their say so what did they think?

Paul Taylor, The Independent hasn't given a star rating but seems to have loved it:

Redmayne is, to my mind, the best Richard since Sam West took on the role in Steven Pimlott's radically updated version at the RSC.

Michael Billington, The Guardian ***

Overall a glowing production but thinks Redmayne's inexperience with Shakespeare shows:

Like many Shakespearean tyros, he also falls into the trap of seeking to illustrate virtually every line with an appropriate hand gesture: thus when he offers "to write sorrow in the bosom of the Earth" he mimes a signature forgetting that the potency of the idea lies in the words.

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph ****

A chunk of the review is about the legacy of Grandage at the Donmar but of the play itself Redmayne impresses:

In the last act, when Richard recognises in his prison cell that “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me”, Redmayne’s Richard suddenly discovers a moving depth of emotion and self-knowledge. My only quibble is that the actor overdoes the gaping mouth of a king who can’t quite believe the insolence of his subjects. It makes his Richard II resemble something on a fishmonger’s slab.

Maxwell Cooter, What's On ***

This Richard II contains some good performances and has excellent moments but fails to capture all the rich complexity of the play.

Libby Purves, The Times (£) ****

Redmayne’s Richard is all eloquent, self-dramatising kingliness, yet beneath it lies the trapped, vacillating self-doubt of a man who knows that the role he was born to is beyond him. Redmayne unpeels this pain, desperate self-delusion and vanity with great delicacy. Andrew Buchan as Bolingbroke is macho in warlike leather, his watchful stillness a tough secular contrast to Richard’s theatrical posing.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail ***

Mr Redmayne certainly delivers an interesting performance. This Richard is not as tyrannical as some. He has the sort of mouth which opens and shuts a couple of times before passing judgment.

When he gives up the throne to Henry Bolingbroke (Andrew Buchan, rather good) he succumbs to little more than petulance. With a really top-notch Richard we surely pity him a little by the end. 

That didn’t happen for me in this production. 

From these reviews Richard II gets an average of 3.4 stars out of five so not everyone was wholly convinced.  And here are the photo's from the opening night party in case you are interested.