Richard II, Shakespeare's Globe, London. August 2015.
This was a surprise addition to my theatre going calendar as I was lucky enough to win tickets to this on Twitter. Well I actually won tickets to any Globe production this season but as it is my friend's favourite Shakespeare play (probably) we decided that this was the one we'd see.
It was also my friend's first visit to the Globe after listening to me rave about it for the past few years so I was a little nervous how she'd take to the space - it isn't for everyone after all, To add to the pressure she'd also accompanied me to see Richard II in 2013 when we saw the RSC version.
I found this production much clearer in terms of plot narrative, starting the play with the coronation of a child (which segued into an adult very well) showed that this version of Richard was all about a king who hadn't known any other way of life, hence why he was so spoilt and petulant. The action unfolded naturally after this and there was a lot of humour in the staging, this childishness was also very movingly reprised at the end in a scene that did bring a lump to my throat.
This Bolingbroke was a charismatic and alluring figure, more so than the king, and thus it was easy to see why people did follow him so swiftly. He also managed to foreshadow his future as shown in Henry IV (parts one and two) which was a nice touch. In this version Aumerle was more of a sycophant to Richard than anything else and his treachery treated very well.
This isn't a play that allows a lot of interaction with the Groundlings and what there was came naturally and wasn't over played, as with the rest of the season however I did find that the space was used a little too much for entrances and exits.
The comic scenes were typical Globe moments and worked wonderfully within the play, they kept the plot moving and were not at all comic asides or pauses in the action. The love between Richard and his Queen was another beautiful thing to watch.
My main criticism with this play remains the same as before - unless you listen very, very closely to the words - you are left not entirely sure why the king is as 'bad' as he is and why he has to abdicate. There is no flowing hair or homosexual undertone in this version and I came away feeling that poor Richard really got the thin edge of the wedge. My friend and I were debating this after the show, and both agreed that occasionally we found his lines to be rushed and wondered if this was a directorial choice and a way of showing his instability and unsuitability...
I am revisiting this play on the very last day of the season and I am pleased to have a second chance to see this play as it is deceptively complicated and there are a lot of little details I want to see again.