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Richard II at the Globe theatre

First Published 23 July 2015, Last Updated 6 June 2018

What’s it all about?

An England governed by a leader out of touch with real people, who is bleeding the country dry and believing in his own divine right to do whatever he pleases regardless of the consequences. And the uprising that follows, bringing him crashing back down to Earth. Hmmm…

Who’s in it?

The wonderful Charles Edwards, who deserves to be a household name he’s so regularly brilliant, again delivers a sterling performance. He creates a childish Richard with a jaunty arrogance and the absolute confidence of entitlement that is briefly disturbed in ripples to reveal non-regal frailty.

He’s joined by a cast including former The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time star Graham Butler, who brings out the waspish interior designer in the king’s close collaborator Aumerle, and David Sturzaker as a Bolingbroke who grows from arrogant to even more arrogant through the course of the play.

What should I look out for?

William Gaunt’s impassioned, resentment-driven rendition of John of Gaunt’s ‘This England’ speech, guaranteed to stir anyone feeling a tad dissatisfied at this time.

The highest kneeling-before-royalty you’re likely to see this summer (or ever, really).

Paul Wills’ clearly symbolic set all tarnished, scuffed gold and dominated by a thrust in the shape of a crucifix.

In a nutshell?

Charles Edwards becomes the charming face of a ruler ravaging his country through arrogant misrule in Shakespeare’s Globe’s timely production.

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Will I like it?

In the past I’ve been known to struggle with the sloth of Richard II. Not a lot happens. Slowly. But at the Globe this summer director Simon Godwin has, with Edwards’ help, found a charming humour in the king’s disconnection to reality, a raw, stage-filling rage in Sturzaker’s Bolingbroke, a surprising spot of silly boot-tossing fun, and thrown in a couple of flourishes that can’t fail to bring a smile to your face.

It’s definitely worth a trip to this other Eden, demi-paradise that is the Globe.

Richard II plays at Shakespeare’s Globe until 18 October. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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