Review: R-3

Written for The Stage

To the grisly sound of bones crunching and dirt being clawed away, Timothy Allsop’s Richard rises from a grave scattered with papers. So begins Allsop and Caroline Devlin’s R-3 – Richard III rebooted in order to find the ‘man beneath the myth’. As a defence of this slandered king, it is a passionate account laced with historical detail but relying too heavily on its own imagined narratives to be wholly plausible.

Allsop faces down the accusations laid at this Plantagenet’s door so devastatingly by the Tudor’s most famous scribe. Princess Ann was actually a loved and loving wife, while Richard himself was said to have a ‘great heart’.

Influenced by the research of Dr Ashdown-Hill, some of these reclamations of character appear authentic but proof is scarce and as they admit themselves, Devlin and Allsop’s Richard is ultimately as fictional as Shakespeare’s.

St Saviours Church lends some pomp and splendour to an otherwise modern interpretation while Matt Eaton’s colourful sound design fills the air with Richard’s memories and nightmares. Allsop’s characterisation throughout is too light and he is more showman than embattled king. But this is an intriguing and entertaining take on one of the Bard’s most malign anti-heroes.

Runs until 3rd November

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