WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? Donmar Warehouse RUNTIME: 100 minutes (no interval)
WHEN? 7/12, press night 12/12, runs to 1/2/20
Actor Daniel Monks has hemiplegia and author Mike Lew tailored his script for the British premiere of his reimagining of Shakespeare’s Richard III to modern-day US high school Roseland High.
So far, so 1995 film Clueless which relocated Jane Austen’s Emma into this more familiar setting but there’s much more to admire here including a remarkable central performance by Monks as the titular teenage Dick which includes a triumphant dance scene that had this preview audience clapping and whooping its appreciation.
Monks is Dick who walks with a stick and wants to usurp the bullying and vacuous jock Eddie Ivy played to a tee by Callum Adams as school president.
He finds an ally in Barbara ‘Buck’ Buckingham (actress in a wheelchair Ruth Madeley may be familiar to viewers of the BBC’s excellent Years and Years) and he manipulates her to execute his aim.
Rival Clarissa Duke (Alice Hewkin gives us loud desperation) is dispensed with and later recruited to be Dick’s social media manager as his campaign gains pace.
Dancer Anne Margaret (Siena Kelly especially convincing in a challenging role) is Eddie’s former girlfriend who teaches Dick to move and asks him to a dance.
We won’t spoil Kelly’s final bow but it’s a showstopper and tribute to author Lew’s writing that, although Anne is not driving the plot, her part within it is recognised in a final depiction of herstory.
Teacher Elizabeth York (Susan Wokoma gives a sense of both frustration and talentspotting) spots the potential in Dick to further her goals yet never quite manages to contain him.
As things spiral out of control after Dick’s show stopping dance routine, we were reminded of the way Dear Evan Hansen chronicles both the power of social media and teenage helplessness in containing the damage when its rollercoaster becomes too much to ride.
Director Michael Longhurst is also the Artistic Director at this venue and we’ve already singled out Appropriate at this venue as an example of some of the best new writing of the year performed winningly by an exceptional cast.
Don’t miss this chance to see an outsider’s story relocated to a relatable setting that will have you both rooting and despairing at its protagonist as he gives one of the most accomplished performances in any theatre this year.