Playwrights' plays go out with a fizz rather than a bang: Across Oka
Battle of the Richard III's part 2: Rylance does Rooster at The Globe

Battle of Richard III's part 1: RSC's Jonjo O'Neill

Richard-III-7-361x541Have ended up booking to see two different productions of Richard III within four days, all the better for close comparisons. And, both productions are going up against Propeller/Richard Clothier who set the bar very high last year with their gore-fest take on Shakespeare's most evil king.

First up is the RSC's version headed by Jonjo O'Neill which I saw on Thursday evening in the smaller, more intimate Swan Theatre, Stratford.

I was excited when I heard Jonjo had  been cast as Richard III, firstly because I loved the cheeky energy he had  as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet a couple of years ago and, secondly, because I thought a younger Richard would add an interesting energy to the play, as the role is traditionally played by men nudging middle age. It turns out that Richard, the real one, was actually 32 when he died so the casting isn't actually that radically - except in the world of theatre.

And he brought youthful energy to the role in abundance. Within his first speech he'd broken the fourth wall and responded to one audience member's particularly loud laugh at a line, ad-libbing a response with a grin and a wink. He was a cocky, smiling and cheeky Richard barely hiding his duplicity and all the more venomous for it.

It was all performed at a frenetic pace - sometimes maybe a little too frenetic, although it does serve to nicely mirror the increasingly frantic and sometime erratic behaviour of the King as he struggles to stay on top. 

Simply staged and without a weak performance from among the rest of the cast - it was great to see Pippa Nixon on stage again together with Siobhan Redmond and Paola Dionisotti. This isn't quite up to Propeller's production but it is only a few bloody, on-stage murders shy - only two murders on stage and one was a bloodless stabbing which is always going to disappoint a little. A great romp of a production and I am going to give it 4 and a half stars.

Richard III runs in rep at the Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon until September 15. And if you want a taste of Jonjo's performance watch the video below. Mark Rylance gets his turn this afternoon at The Globe. Bring it on.

Production photo of Jonjo as Richard by Hugo Glendinning and you can view more on the Richard III page on the RSC website


Dunno what it is about my 6DS game that makes others want to start creating rules. It's usually @polyg but this time my friend Jen said I couldn't have this connection because it was the same play as the 6DS connection for The Tempest which we'd already seen as a matinee. But it is a different actor and it's my game so I make the rules (and break them) as I see fit. So the connection is Simon Coombs who plays the Marquis of Dorset and who was in The Emperor and Galilean at the National which starred Andrew Scott who's worked with Mr W in Cock and The Hour.