Richard II - Theatre Review

Shakespeare is given a bold makeover in a physical theatre adaptation of RICHARD II at The Fun Federation in Cloudesley Street, N1


The Fun Federation, Cloudesley Street, N1

THE ARTS’ love affair with Shakespeare is an enduring one and you never have to search hard to find a venue staging one of his plays.

As a result theatre companies have to become more and more creative in adapting the bard’s works.

We’ve seen male parts played by women and contemporary reworkings set in trailer parks and London ghettos. Yet the off-the-wall minds behind A Company Of Fools still took me by surprise with their bizarre but brilliantly choreographed version of Richard II.

There are no props, no costumes, and fair to say no roles. Instead the characters and scenery are portrayed entirely by shapes formed by the seven-strong cast. The actors cluster together – one playing the king’s crown, for example, another his hands – and swap speaking roles with an encyclopaedic grasp of the script.

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Without a basic knowledge of the play, though, audiences may find themselves losing the plot as the actors rush around the stage contorting themselves into positions even a yoga master would be impressed by.

But the performance is staged to such pinpoint precision you cannot help but be impressed and the beauty of Shakespeare’s verse flourishes without any other distractions. The company’s adaptation is a risk, but certainly one worth taking.