THEATRE REVIEW: Richard III starring Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE: Almeida

WHEN: 10/6, press night 16/6 runs to 6/8

Director Rupert Goold’s inventive take on this Shakespeare classic revolves around a trench centre stage, beginning and concluding in the modern day Leicester car park where Richard III‘s body was recently found.

  • Read on for whether Ralph Fiennes’ Richard III is as good as Benedict Cumberbatch’s

This is the third time we’ve seen Fiennes on a London stage in the last year and he’s far better here than he was in Man Superman at the National (an impressive feat of memory more than anything else) and The Master Builder at the Old Vic (relentlessly downbeat).

This is also the third time we’ve seen Richard III in recent weeks. Fiennes is almost as good as Sir Ian McKellen in the 1996 film, spurring audience laughter as he breaks the fourth well to confide in the audience as to what he’s plotting.

His restrictive physicality which so dominated how he views himself and the way he treats others is better deployed than Benedict Cumberbatch in TV’s recent The Hollow Crown. Why Fiennes switched to a bizarre regional accent (Cornish?) in the concluding minutes of the production we weren’t sure however.

The Almeida’s casts are always well rounded and here we must make special mention of the glorious spitting Lady Anne (Joanna Vanderham), Tom Canton unrecognisable in dual roles, Finbar Lynch’s imperious and wronged Duke of Buckingham and the 79-year-old Vanessa Redgrave unforgettable in a minor part as Queen Margaret.

Much to enjoy here then, not least the car park reference and occasional modern-day use of smartphones, with the Almeida fast becoming a venue whose performance quality can always be relied upon.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Almeida. Tickets here.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham

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