Richard III (A One-Woman Show)

Aug 17 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Innovative

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Tues 15 – Sat 19 August 2017
Review by Linus West

Shakespeare’s original script is pushed to the absolute limit, with a radical and intriguing overhaul of the renowned play Richard III.

Emily Carding has left herself at the mercy of the audience, single-handedly depicting the rise and fall of the medieval English monarch with a professional shine.

Emily Carding is Richard III

As the theatre doors of the Royal Scots Club swing open an already in-character Carding is waiting patiently on the other side. She welcomes the audience and invites them in with a subtle charisma. Half a dozen or so are greeted not by their own name, but with that of a character in the show – they are seated in a specific location, and given a name tag.

This is how the Brite Theater’s play overcomes its most significant hurdle. How does just a lone actress stage a show requiring so many intertwined characters? The solution – take advantage of the only other people in the room at that moment; the audience. It’s a cunning concept, one that gives this production a unique shine.

Carding moves about the stage mysterious and composed, one hand permanently shoved in pocket to represent Richard’s disability. She’s 100% focused the entire way through, looking audience members in the eye with an unwavering stare. Her business suit and handy iPhone renew the character fresh for 2017.

Whenever the script demands, she summons an audience member to their feet, talking to them as the character she has designated.

cut and pasted

This is where the real genius of director Björt Sigfúsdóttir’s ‘script’ kicks in – they don’t have to say a word. The lines have been cut and pasted in a way that allows Carding to utter all her original dialogue, without switching character, and still make sense. She guides the audience through with a helping hand; all you have to do is smile and nod. A weird form of scriptwriting, but innovative nonetheless.

She doesn’t even have to bother breaking the fourth wall – the audience is already in it, acting inside it.

Each line has been memorised to perfection, not once does she stumble. Her pacing is a bit off, maintaining the same constant energy level throughout the play, only to shoot up in the final scene. A more gradual progression would do a better job of building up the tension as Richard butchers his way to the throne, but now we’re really nitpicking.

The staging choice is absolutely the right call; audience members seated round Carding on all sides, leaving her in the centre. There, she is armed with an office chair (used to great effect), wine bottle and glass, small table, copy of the original script, and a few mysterious sticky notes. It looks fine, and works well – Sigfúsdóttir clearly knows what she’s doing here.

Richard III (A One-Woman Show) makes as original a production as possible out of a classic text. An innovative script and dedicated actress provide an easy choice for Shakespeare lovers, offering something new from a script that has been done to death.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 August 2017
Daily 1:30pm
Tickets on the #EdFringe Website:
Brite Theater on Facebook: @britetheater
Brite Theater on Twitter: @BriteTheater
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