Newsnight Review discussed Richard III is at the RSC in Stratford.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)
I think it's misconceived, actually. I
mean there are some good things about
this performance. The theatricality of it,
the eye rolling, the clowning, the
cartoonishness of it, I think, doesn't suit
the play. I think its against the logic of
the play, which depends so much on
you not being sure
whether people realise how evil he is.
How can anybody be fooled by this
Richard III? How could anybody be
seduced or tricked when he's more or less grinning to their faces.
I take what you are
saying. John, to use the actor, his own
gifts, which is what is very
important. He's such a theatrical actor.
He is a great entertainer,
Henry Goodman, as well as a straight
actor. It's a smart move to say, let's play
with your gifts first and put it out there.
What are you going to do, come out
with the crutches, the rack, the
hunchback. So the beginning is
incredibly theatrical. You always have
the big red curtain. The big problem is
that his evil has to propel this play. It has
to be the centre of this play. Everything
on that stage happens because Richard is
so evil. We lose that because Goodman
is such a generous actor he stays in the
back a lot of the time and let the rest of
the company play. Except towards the
battle scene, which is magnificent.
What do you mean generous?
He's a very generous ensemble actor.
It's not a generous role is it?
He lets the Buckingham come on, he lets
the other actors come on. In a sense, that
is kind of lost. That evil. He finds it again.
I still can't figure out how it happens. He
finds the traditional Richard in the battle
Given that Bonnie thinks we have lost
some evil. Is Richard III when you lose
evil a meaningless play?
No, not at all, because he is a man who is
placed above his capabilities, and in this
production that's why he's always up high.
He's up on a kids high chair thrown or on an
alter or standing on a wagon. He is being
pushed above his abilities. Partly by
Buckingham, who is this Iago type, lets
not say a Mandelson, this figure who is
propelling him into this role saying go
for it, go for it. What he does is he mugs
to the audience and persuades the audience
that he is worth being on the stage. He is
not playing to the other actors and
persuading them he could be a good king.
The night I saw it the whole audience was
Is that too knowing? He rips a
programme up at the beginning.
I think it is too knowing, I think its no
accident. Bonnie was saying how great
he is in the battle scene. He is good in
the night before. I think Henry Goodman
is terrific when the joking has to stop.
The latter third of the play, when power
is beginning to sort of ooze away from
him. When the ghosts are gathering.
When he is not going facetious, because
I think its a facetious performance some
of the time. I think he's starts being really
I thought, you know, looking at it,
this is the way it would have been played
at the original Globe, we would have
these big gestures and eye rolling. I
appreciated that. There was something
beautiful about the playing of this
Richard. There is a transparency in it.
I've seen a lot of Richard III's, this is the
first one I could see the Bard behind it. I
was moved in some movements of his
playing. I could actually see this part
being constructed. Goodman is
constantly constructing his Richard.
You think to yourself 'yes maybe that is
the way it was'. He was all the time
building himself, building himself. It's
intricate. It's tricky. It's a high-wire act.
He pull it is off, I think, beautifully.
Even though some may say it's too Mel
They would say it if they weren't looking
at him and that's what's important. What
happens is, in between the big gestures,
he's constructing. Its beautiful really.
There's one little caveat here which is
that Ian McKellan who played the last
great Richard III some people say,
suggested to Goodman that he play it as
Saddam Hussein, fortunately he didn't
take that on board.