RICHARD III

03 August 2014 Trafalgar Studios, London


A few months ago, it was reported that Martin Freeman would be taking on the role of Richard III in the second season of Trafalgar Transformed. Now, I've not been to the first season, but wish I had as James McAvoy did Macbeth last year and from what I heard at the time, it was amazing. So on hearing that Martin would be doing a play which excited me anyway, I knew I had to go.

If you could have bottled the excitement I got when my friend Imogen told me she had managed to get us stage seats, I'm sure we could use it as a renewable energy source. I'd written off the idea that we'd be sitting on the actual stage as I assumed the tickets would be crazily expensive, and being a student, I'm not exactly rolling in money.

Anyway, the day finally arrived. I was excited, but I don't think it had quite sunk in that I was going to be seeing Martin Freeman, in theatre, and that I would be on the same stage as him. I knew that I wouldn't realise it was happening, until Martin stepped on that stage. Can I just thank Trafalgar Studios for having stage seating? It's the first time I've ever sat on a stage whilst watching a play, and it was great, being right in the action! When we got there, and took our seats...it was even closer to the set itself than I thought! I won't go through the entire play itself as my memory isn't the most brilliant at remembering everything. I'll highlight some of my favourite moments though.

- The lighting - over the past couple of years, I've got so giddy over lighting in plays, TV and film. Seriously, if lighting is done right, I will not shut up about it. Good lighting makes a good story, great. It adds another dimension to it, and makes something a lot more memorable to me.

- The staging - two particular things I loved were the fish tank (that had a few real goldfish in - me and Imogen may have got slightly distracted by them before the play and in the interval...) and the lifts on either side of the stage.

- The fish tank was used for one particular death, but I thought it was done in such a great way - three of the characters are fighting, and two of them drown the third guy - I think they then cut his throat? The water turns red, and to me, it was visually stunning because of this, and the light they had placed in there to emphasise it. I don't condone murder, no way Jose, but the fights in this play, they were pretty intense!

- The lifts, ohhhh, the lifts. They were used quite often throughout the play, but the thing that stuck out to me is when Richard is killing his wife. He is strangling her in various ways - with his hand, with the telephone cable, and as he is, some kind of lift music is playing, and the doors on the lift are opening and closing erratically (I think it may have only been one lift, I didn't look over to the other side, away from what was happening at the time).

- The blood. I remember watching an interview with the director Jamie Lloyd, where he discusses that the blood is the most realistic looking stage blood around, and that output for the company has risen threefold. I think it must have been the same company that supplied blood for Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse, as it looked very similar. But yes, it was very realistic, and I'll just say I'm glad I wasn't sat in the front row in the actual audience, as they got showered with blood at one particular point in the play. I did have to chuckle to myself at people's reactions to it, even though they had the waterproof macs/ponchos on, provided by the theatre because they were sat in the 'splash zone'.

- Finally, the cast. The entire cast was fabulous and I can't fault them. I respect anyone that can remember that amount of dialogue, especially in Shakespearean. I'd be hopeless - I can barely remember what I need to buy when I pop to the shops!

Of course, I have to talk about Martin. It was great getting to see him in a role such as this, as I know many people were wondering if he'd be able to do it, as not many people would put him and Shakespeare together. I don't get why people were thinking like that to be honest - I'm pretty open minded with people and roles they are announced in. They wouldn't be chosen for a role, if the director and casting folks didn't think they'd be suited to it!

- Can I just say he rocks the beard? Because he does, he really does. And he commands that stage. There were moments where Richard gets very angry, and shouting, and I loved the fact that I was on stage, because you felt as though you were being shouted at. There is also a moment where he is leaning over a table, and I could feel myself leaning back, even though he was over the other side of the stage!

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