Tag Archives: Roger Lloyd Pack

“Richard III” at Shakespeare’s Globe

Mark Rylance, former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, makes his return to the theatre in the title role of Richard III. The play is always a star vehicle, and Rylance’s Richard is a stuttering, often jovial figure who gets plenty of laughs. Playing with the theatricality of his character, a smart move that suits Rylance, his conspiratorial tone delights. It takes time to appreciate Richard’s darkness, but when he chooses, Rylance shows a startling, unashamedly psychotic King, making sure his depiction will be one to go down in theatre history.

Alongside Rylance the whole production, under the direction of Tim Carroll, shows skilful pacing. The speed of the action is breakneck but the riveting ensemble seize the attention masterfully. Special notice must go to Roger Lloyd Pack as the King-maker Buckingham, matching Richard in his cynical malevolence up to the point of murdering the princes in the Tower: when Lloyd Pack exits to consider the usurping King’s request, it is a moment of great tension, superbly performed.

This is an all-male production. Without revisiting the debate on this approach, and stressing that those taking on female roles give superb performances (especially Johnny Flynn, who plays Richard’s unwilling wife Anne), the move is indicative of a traditional approach to the play. There’s no dwelling on the history here or the superstition rife in early modern society – Shakespeare took both for granted after all. The emphasis is on drama and entertainment.

Thoroughly at home on his old stomping ground, Rylance leads the cast in exploiting the dominant feature of the Globe – its ability to encourage audience participation. Whether it’s knowing glances that create complicity or shared outrage at Richard’s demonic actions, Carroll’s production is always engaging. With direct appeals for cheers as he is encouraged to take the throne, Richard gets the applause Shakespeare’s play has denied him as a figure in history – in the case of this production, the cheers are well deserved.

Until 13 October 2012 and then transferring to the Apollo Theatre from 6 November 2012


Photo by Simon Annand

Written 26 July 2012 for The London Magazine

“The Seagull” at the Arcola Theatre

Dalston’s an unlikely place for a dacha. But Joseph Blatchley’s fine new production of The Seagull at the Arcola Theatre takes us to the Russian countryside in a fresh and exciting way. Working with Charlotte Pyke and John Kerr on a new translation, Chekhov’s text seems funnier and more dramatic than ever.

The new adaptation takes the young writer Konstantin’s advice to heart, creating a script that “flows freely”; full of naturalism, with judicious use of modern idioms, it is clear and pacey. In a play so crowded with art and performance, the histrionics and famous Russian gloom take on a comic twist – yet when sincerity comes forth it packs a punch.

“So much anguish, everyone in love” announces Roger Lloyd Pack’s excellent Dr. Dorn: mostly to himself since Chekhov’s characters are solipsistic despite their self-awareness. Their selfishness is played for humour by the ensemble cast. In the star role of Arkadina, the successful actress who can’t stand the spotlight being on anyone else, Geraldine James is wonderfully intense.

Arkadina’s battles are tremendous set pieces, none more so than her confrontations with her son Konstantin. Al Weaver takes the part, funny as a petulant artist, and then deeply moving as he becomes a tortured young man.

Konstantin’s love for Nina, the girl next door who wants to become an actress, is so convincing it gives the whole production a romantic air. Yolanda Kettle, in a professional debut to be proud of, plays the role charmingly, making her character’s demise all the more moving.
Nina’s downfall comes via Trigorin, in Blatchley’s version a more than usually fascinating character. Played expertly by Matt Wilkinson, the startling accusation he has been “grooming” Nina adds considerable tension, making her seduction relevant to a modern audience, and preparing the ground for a traumatic conclusion that becomes as appropriately tormented as the good doctor predicted.

Until 16 July 2011


Photo by Simon Annand

Written 16 June 2011 for The London Magazine