A spellbound group of culture mavens attended an unforgettable interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Richard III last weekend (April 7 and 8). Hastings-based Emily Carding invited the audience into the world of Richard III, the last Yorkist king, who ruled England between 1483 and 1485 before he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field and Henry Tudor took the throne.
The play covers the events that bring Richard to power; the execution of his brother, the Duke of Clarence, drowned – by his own request – in a barrel of Malmsey wine; the mysterious disappearance of the direct heirs to Edward IV when imprisoned in the Tower of London and the role of Lady Anne Neville, the daughter of the “Kingmaker” Earl of Warwick.
Carding started off with the benefit of great material, but brought a whole new dimension to the production. Audience members were allocated roles and we were brought into the performance, interacting with her. When our turn came to die, we were marked and our turn was over. There was nowhere to hide as the intimate theatre in the round at Theatre of Legend at the bottom of The Mint meant that we could see every expression on each character’s face.
With such a radical approach, there are many risks. People could be embarrassed, the ad-libbing might not work effectively, something could go wrong. Carding made it seem effortless (though I am sure that was very far from the truth). She was in complete control and spectators were enthralled.
Shakespeare plays are sometimes seen as difficult and inaccessible. I couldn’t bear to watch one until I was in my late 20s. But Carding’s One Woman Richard transcends these barriers. Let’s watch out for more from her. This was a special evening.
Photo: Manuela Giusto for Re-Loaded Festival
Image Credits: Manuela Giusto for Re-Loaded Festival .