Antic Disposition’s production of Richard III is currently concluding its tour at Temple Church, just behind Fleet Street, after having toured the country performing in various churches. This production was the first time I had heard of Antic Disposition, a touring company of actors who perform classic plays with a modern twist. I was particularly excited when I was offered the chance to see them perform at Temple Church as Richard III is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.
In case you aren’t familiar, the play follows Richard III of England as he murders and manipulates his way to the throne. I’ve seen a production where the play took place in the 1970s and I’ve seen the BBC adaptation and was intrigued to see how Antic Disposition were going to inject a modern touch to the play, regardless of the slightly old fashioned set in the middle of the church. I really liked the costumes of the characters, with the royal family being protected by bodyguards in suits. There’s a moment in the play where the Mayor is present in a scene and shares an uncanny resemblance to former Mayor of London, one Boris Johnson.
The cast worked really well as an ensemble lead by Toby Manley who plays a wickedly, devilish yet incredibly charming Richard III, which is how I’ve pictured the character when I’ve read the play. As the stage is, literally, right in the middle of the church, the actors would have to go round the whole church on their path to backstage. And I was amazed at how much he was able to keep in character even when off stage walking with a limp.
Most of the actors played multiple roles which sounds like an interesting casting choice but, at times, did feel like they could’ve benefited from having more actors within the company. There were a few times when Richard would kill somebody and they would stand behind him in a dark blue light at the top of the stage, as if to show Richard is haunted by the ghosts of the people he killed. And it was interesting at first, but then one of the actors would have to run off to change into another character for the next scene while the others were still there. On another note, they tried to incorporate audience participation which didn’t have a set up, the actors would just turn to the audience in hopes they’d play along but it did feel quite awkward the first couple of times they did it.
I’ve started to sound a bit harsh but I did genuinely enjoy the show and it’s always great to see a good Shakespeare play on stage again. For more information on Antic Disposition please check out http://www.anticdisposition.co.uk/.
Antic Disposition’s Richard III is currently running at Temple Church until September 9th. For tickets and more information please visit http://www.anticdisposition.co.uk/richard-iii-2017.html
Until next time
* Just a quick disclaimer, I received tickets for this production through the production’s press representative and all opinions stated here are my own. The production photos used here also came from the press representative, except the featured image which is my own photo.