On the RSC’s Richard II with David Tennant

This is my first ever theatrical review. In fact I should be asleep now but I am too hyper after David Tennant’s performance I just saw in Stratford.

I was nervous before going, I adore Tennant but I was really struggling with the play. I found it rather difficult and dry. I tried to read other people’s interpretations and it didn’t really help. However, Mr Tennant has done the most amazing job in bringing it to life. Suddenly, long speeches, in which I don’t understand half of the words, made so much sense. Storyline, which was on the bordering line with boring – exciting and intriguing. Royal affairs – so very relevant and touching.

Richard II is only the first part of Shakespeare’s tetralogy of historical plays so it offsets a lot of very important and dramatic events. The story itself, it turns out, is actually quite simple. Richard makes two mistakes very early on by banishing Bolingbroke (future Henry the 4th) for 6 years and claiming his father’s land and money (despite Bolingbroke being the right heir.) Those mistakes eventually lead to Richard’s supporters betraying him one by one, leaving him no choice but to give up his crown. When he is powerful, he has lots of friends and advisers. When they fear that he might take their heritage, one by one they join Boligbroke’s side and eventually kill Richard in jail. Very sad. Of course, it being a Shakespeare’s play, it contains a lot of depth and room for interpretation. Great actors allow us to instinctively feel those deep emotions without it being daunting – The RSC achieve that perfectly.

Tennant’s incredible elfish hair and robes helped create a godly atmosphere. You could believe that he has divine right to rule and is to be worshiped by his subjects. But then, his expressions and body language made him seem so very human and vain, even weak. Events unfold in such a quick pace and Tennant transforms so much – well, there is no time to think of Doctor Who references.

But he wasn’t the only star of the show. I was incredibly moved by the performance of Oliver Rix (he plays Duke of Aumerle and is the understudy for Richard the Second.) It is wrong to objectify men, but when he first came to the stage, I was instantly stunned by his striking looks. Then, he spoke and his voice is so deep and beautiful, it’s worth comparing it to the one of Mr Cumberbatch. The acting seemed completely easy to him, scenes of doubt, fright, betrayal and murder, all of it was flawless. And when he kissed David Tennant.. No, we must not objectify men! Nevertheless, his talent is instantly recognisable and I will certainly keep an eye out for productions with him in the future.

If you have a chance to see these amazing performances – don’t be put off by the difficult play or uncomfortable seats in Stratford, go– you won’t regret it! If you haven’t guessed – it’s 5 stars from me.

In the interview with Radio Times Tennant said that he was a geek and proud of it. As a fellow geek, I think he is the best of us – smart, talented and inspiring. He gets bonus point for bringing me so much closer to Shakespeare. Therefore I would like to pronounce him the king of geeks and wish him a long, happy and Bolingbroke-free reign.


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