Next Best Thing productions

Richard III
By William Shakespeare

Next Best Thing productions - Richard III by William Shakespeare

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21st-24th February 2007
St Oswald’s Church, Sheffield

Cast:
David Reid
Dan Sumption
Julia Pegg
Philip Ashton
Wendy Drury
Jon Cheetham
Sophie Millward
Lawrence Whyte
Umar Kithab
Pete Kennedy
Alex Brade
Will Bird 

Produced by Will Bird, Jenny Careless and John Rush

Directed by Will Bird 

St Oswald's Church was again the venue for this promenade style staging of Shakespeare's most notorious history play. The text was thoroughly edited down to turn one of the Bard's longest plays into a fast-paced political thriller. Great coats and evening gowns gave this production a modern feel while the whole magnificent interior of the church was utilised - the pulpit the setting for Richard's reluctant acceptance of the crown.

David Reid gave a riveting performance as the twisted Duke of Gloucester - and made the part his own with mixture of lascivious charm and dynamic physicality. Buckingham - the political fixer with shades of Joseph Goebbels and Peter Mandelson - was brought to life in Dan Sumption's smooth and elegant performance, while Julia Pegg was breathtaking in her emotional portrayal of the doomed Elizabeth Woodville. With a small cast, actors stepped up to the plate with some audacious doubling up: Wendy Drury effortlessly slid between the tragic and naïve Lady Anne Neville, Richard's young queen, and Margaret of Anjou, the crazed old widow of Henry VI; Phil Ashton brought real depth in portraying both of Richard's elder brothers: the bufoonish Duke of Clarence, and the statesmanlike Edward IV; and Jon Cheetham excelled as the foppish Hastings and the fervent usurper Richmond. Sophie Millward made a regal and sympathetic Queen Mother, Pete Kennedy was chillingly hilarious as Clarence's murderer and Will Bird, Lawrence Whyte, Umar Kithab and Alex Brade made the most of their roles as warring supporters of both sides.

This was a true ensemble piece produced on a shoestring in a difficult venue, but thanks to the dedication of the cast and crew Next Best Thing pulled off its remarkable own theatrical coup - gaining their best reviews yet.

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