Review: Richard II

Elsa Maishman 11 March 2016

This is a captivating production of a timeless classic, set in the beautiful interior of Emmanuel College's 17th century chapel.

Director Jamie Armitage presents the audience with an innovative production with a unique vision: The production is in classical style, with the all-female cast showcasing exemplary verse speaking. The Marlowe Society has a formidable reputation to live up to, and this celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death does not dissapoint.

Bea Svistunenko skilfully depicts Richard II with her engaging acting and strikingly poetic verse reading. Alexandra Wetherell’s Bolingbroke is pragmatic and more capable, highlighted by her uninflected and less poetic delivery.

The beautiful interior of the Emmanuel College chapel recreates the style of the royal medieval interiors, bringing the audience closer to the Shakespearian era. The candles lit throughout the production also add to the medieval atmosphere, and the set design, including features such as royal flags and tents decorating the altar of the chapel, highlights the royal setting of the production.

Emma Blacklay-Piech deserves a special mention for her presence onstage in the role of John of Gaunt. Her powerful acting is complemented by an effective costume from designer Matilda Wickham. Dolores Carbonari delivers another captivating performance in her role of Queen Isabella – again complemented by a beautiful costume.

These excellent costumes borrowed from the National Theatre mesmerise the audience, adding to the atmosphere of a beautiful production.