DVD Review: Richard III (1995)

“I am not made of stone”

The boldness of Shakespearean adaptation can be a car crash when it goes wrong but when it is right, as in this 1995 version of Richard III, it is utterly thrilling. From the crashing of a tank through walls and subsequent gory executions into the jaunty sway of 1930s music, Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine’s idiosyncratic reshaping of the story, first seen at the NT in 1992, is cannily and compellingly done. And because it has been done well, one is far more inclined to grant the liberties that have been taken with the text, because they’re reasoned and reasonable.

Relocated to a parallel version of 1930s Britain in which years of civil war has bred fascism, Richard of York’s rise to power has never seemed quite so chilling as it does here. An ingenious use of British landmarks put to different use cleverly disorients the audience but never so much that it seems too far beyond belief. So Battersea Power Station becomes a coastal military base, St Pancras is substituted for Westminster, and the visuals are just stunning throughout, culminating in a genuinely breath-taking rally.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Richard III (1995)”

Review: Once Bitten, Orange Tree Theatre

“It’s a well-known fact that infidelity makes the heart grow stronger”

Opting for farce for their festive fare this year, Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre is mounting a production of Once Bitten, by Alfred Hennequin & Alfred Delacour. Focusing on the trials and tribulations of would-be lawyer Fauvinard who, when he receives his first case, a woman who wants a divorce but no scandal, has to fit work into his busy schedule of philandering with his mistress. But things are rarely that easy as he has a household of eccentrics to deal with, a highly mistrusting mother-in-law, a narcoleptic uncle, a dippy maid plus his lawyer friend who also needs help in disguising his own infidelities. But when the mysterious Veauradieux case with its missing jewellery and inquisitive policemen threatens to envelop and expose everyone, including the mistresses. Oh, and there’s a dog…

As ever, there’s a multitude of misunderstandings, mistaken identities and mayhem as this group of people all try to achieve their own objectives as they all get further entangled in this mesh of surreal madness over a 24 hour period. Translated and adapted here by Reggie Oliver, it observes the three act format familiar to fans of Feydeau (indeed A Flea In Her Ear observes an almost identical set-up), setting up and starting the action in Fauvinard’s study in 1875 Paris and returning there for the climactic act, and placing the second act in the apartment of the one of the mistresses, an altogether more permissive venue where much of the outrageousness occurs. And it is all rather well done. Continue reading “Review: Once Bitten, Orange Tree Theatre”