Review: Richard III at Hull Truck Theatre

Published: Thursday 11th May 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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Over the course of British history, there have been few rulers as unscrupulous as Richard III. This is why he makes such an excellent theatre villain.

You may remember that a few years ago the monarch’s remains were discovered buried beneath a city council car park in Leicester. Over 400 years prior, Shakespeare wrote the groundbreaking Richard III, which charts the character’s nefarious plans to become king.

Whilst the play has been popular for centuries, the production currently showing at Hull Truck Theatre is quite unique. Co-produced with Northern Broadsides for its 25th anniversary year, it is also the first play staged by the Yorkshire theatre company. This was in very different surroundings: Hull’s Marina Boatshed back in 1992.

The story begins during the War of the Roses. Richard is the Duke of Gloucester, but this status is nowhere near enough for the greedy, conniving schemer. He introduces himself to the audience by openly admitting his plot to snatch the crown, leading to a tale of love, murder and treachery.

Northern Broadsides & Hull Truck Theatre April 2017 Richard 111 by William Shakespeare Directed by Barrie Rutter Designed by Neil Murray Lighting by Malcolm Rippeth Mat Fraser / Richard III Catherine Kinsella / Lady Anne Ruth Alexander-Rubin/Elizabeth Luke Adamson/Catesby Matt Connor/Buckingham Jim English/Murderer Dean Whatton/Murderer Matthew Booth/Brackenbury Richard Standing/Clarence Christine Cox/Duchess Roy North/Hastings Jason Furnival/Stanley Ben Wright/Rivers Barrie Rutter/King Edward Max Gallagher/Dorset Flo Wilson/Margaret ©NOBBY CLARK +44(0)7941-515770 +44(0)20-7274-2105 nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

The titular character is played by actor and musician Mat Fraser, who has thalidomide-induced phocomelia. His portrayal of Richard is excellent, with his cheeky charm and childlike excitement causing you to cheer him on rather than boo his horrendous crimes.

 

Mat is joined by an excellent cast, with Jim English and Dean Whatton providing hilarious duos as both young princes and sycophantic murderers. The two are perfectly paired not only due to their significant height difference, but also thanks to the amusing chemistry between them.

Northern Broadsides & Hull Truck Theatre April 2017 Richard 111 by William Shakespeare Directed by Barrie Rutter Designed by Neil Murray Lighting by Malcolm Rippeth Mat Fraser / Richard III Catherine Kinsella / Lady Anne Ruth Alexander-Rubin/Elizabeth Luke Adamson/Catesby Matt Connor/Buckingham Jim English/Murderer Dean Whatton/Murderer Matthew Booth/Brackenbury Richard Standing/Clarence Christine Cox/Duchess Roy North/Hastings Jason Furnival/Stanley Ben Wright/Rivers Barrie Rutter/King Edward Max Gallagher/Dorset Flo Wilson/Margaret ©NOBBY CLARK +44(0)7941-515770 +44(0)20-7274-2105 nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

 

Barrie Rutter has a right royal cameo, playing the frail and sickly King Edward. It was brilliant to see the Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides take to Hull Truck’s stage during the UK City of Culture celebrations.

He also gave a speech in the foyer afterwards, thanking everyone who has helped to make Northern Broadsides what it is today, including its role as an associate company to The Globe.

Northern Broadsides & Hull Truck Theatre April 2017 Richard 111 by William Shakespeare Directed by Barrie Rutter Designed by Neil Murray Lighting by Malcolm Rippeth Mat Fraser / Richard III Catherine Kinsella / Lady Anne Ruth Alexander-Rubin/Elizabeth Luke Adamson/Catesby Matt Connor/Buckingham Jim English/Murderer Dean Whatton/Murderer Matthew Booth/Brackenbury Richard Standing/Clarence Christine Cox/Duchess Roy North/Hastings Jason Furnival/Stanley Ben Wright/Rivers Barrie Rutter/King Edward Max Gallagher/Dorset Flo Wilson/Margaret ©NOBBY CLARK +44(0)7941-515770 +44(0)20-7274-2105 nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

Whether you know the play well or have never seen it before, we don’t want to give too much away. However, what we can say is that the production is of a high quality and visually memorable, with the 15th century characters wearing 20th century suits, hats and finery.

The set is intentionally minimalistic yet atmospheric, with the enormous cast and ensemble (twenty in total) physically transitioning scenes with confident fluidity. The lighting design is also very nicely done, complementing moments that range from eerie contemplation to bloody fury.

Northern Broadsides & Hull Truck Theatre April 2017 Richard 111 by William Shakespeare Directed by Barrie Rutter Designed by Neil Murray Lighting by Malcolm Rippeth Mat Fraser / Richard III Catherine Kinsella / Lady Anne Ruth Alexander-Rubin/Elizabeth Luke Adamson/Catesby Matt Connor/Buckingham Jim English/Murderer Dean Whatton/Murderer Matthew Booth/Brackenbury Richard Standing/Clarence Christine Cox/Duchess Roy North/Hastings Jason Furnival/Stanley Ben Wright/Rivers Barrie Rutter/King Edward Max Gallagher/Dorset Flo Wilson/Margaret ©NOBBY CLARK +44(0)7941-515770 +44(0)20-7274-2105 nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

Northern Broadsides & Hull Truck Theatre April 2017 Richard 111 by William Shakespeare Directed by Barrie Rutter Designed by Neil Murray Lighting by Malcolm Rippeth Mat Fraser / Richard III Catherine Kinsella / Lady Anne Ruth Alexander-Rubin/Elizabeth Luke Adamson/Catesby Matt Connor/Buckingham Jim English/Murderer Dean Whatton/Murderer Matthew Booth/Brackenbury Richard Standing/Clarence Christine Cox/Duchess Roy North/Hastings Jason Furnival/Stanley Ben Wright/Rivers Barrie Rutter/King Edward Max Gallagher/Dorset Flo Wilson/Margaret ©NOBBY CLARK +44(0)7941-515770 +44(0)20-7274-2105 nobby@nobbyclark.co.uk

Not only is this production of Richard III full of energy and passion, it’s also the perfect opportunity to celebrate a crucial theatre company inside an amazing venue during our year in the spotlight.

The show runs until Saturday 27 May and tickets cost £12 – £22.50. To book, please call the box office on 01482 323638, or you can book online.

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Published: Thursday 11th May 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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