Richard III, Rosemary Branch, review: ‘Strong central character but lacks tension

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 January 2017

Elena Clements (Buckingham) & Sam Coulson (Richard). Picture: Caroline Galea

Elena Clements (Buckingham) & Sam Coulson (Richard). Picture: Caroline Galea


E-cigarettes, iPhones and Kendrick Lamar in Godot’s Watch’s portrayal of the king’s bloody ascent to the throne

One of the challenges with producing Shakespeare is familiarity. Such is the nature of the theatre scene – to its detriment – that it is unlikely that people with no prior experience of the Bard will go to a production such as Richard III.

So follows the challenge of injecting suspense into a familiar story. It certainly isn’t impossible; I’ve often found myself gripping the sides of my seat in agony, even if I already know how the story ends.

This play tells of the king’s bloody ascent to and short-lived occupation of the throne, documenting the many deaths at his hand leading to his rule.

Unfortunately, this production by company Godot’s Watch didn’t build the suspense I desired.

There is ample space for tension; everything is heading towards Richard’s fall from the start. But this show ambles along steadily enough throughout.

Sam Coulson provides a strong central character to build around, scheming and dripping with nuanced wickedness. Katie Norris’s transition from a cocaine-fuelled Queen Elizabeth to desperate mourning parent is another highlight.

A particularly unique moment occurs when the two murderers sent to put an end to Richard’s brother Clarence are played by one Michael Rivers with what appears to be dissociative identity disorder – an interesting interpretation of the disparity of conscience between the two characters in the script.

It is a shame then that some of the other secondary roles aren’t afforded the same attention and there is a slight rush on some of the dialogue.

But there are some other attention-grabbing additions. With e-cigarettes, iPhone 7s and Kendrick Lamar, this is certainly a hashtag 2k17 production. These elements are used in moderation to create a subtle modern context for the script; after all, this coming year has the potential for some Machiavellian developments.

Rating: 3/5 stars


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Featuring top fiddlers from Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and Show of Hands, the folk rock outfit that has been likened to a group of geography teachers takes to the Chapel stage

With no props, a minimal backdrop of neon strips and some sparely used house music interspersing the stories, the focus in Luke Davies’ swift production is Cash’s talent as a master wordsmith

Yesterday, 16:08

MC-ed by Ed Gamble and supported by Aisling Bea, the monthly Union Chapel comedy showcase returns on April 1

Friday, March 24, 2017

Chinglish at the Park Theatre and Tamburlaine at the Arcola are two current productions giving the stage to some of the capital’s best East Asian acting talent

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment


Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now