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University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s Richard III

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Contemporary without sacrificing Shakespearean integrity, the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s Richard III couples laudable performances from Bart Csorba , Rachel Burfield and Gary George, with some sharp direction from Megan Dansie to produce a steadfast and direct production.

Csorba as Richard takes such a slow-burning approach it is at first easy to misinterpret his deliberate pace for passionless performing. But his masterstroke is how well he takes the audience on the journey of initially finding his Gloucester preposterous and small-minded, to ultimately feeling alarmed at his slide into megalomania. When Richard does entirely unleash his fury, the effect is like being hit by envenomed shrapnel. This is an intelligent and powerfully acted examination of a self-loathing and universally reviled, undesirable and spiteful man who lusts after power.

Shakespeare’s Richard III is a conniving, Machiavellian hunchback who murders everyone who stands between him and the throne. He’s devious and wily enough to seduce the Lady Anne (Alice Olwen) – despite killing her husband and father-in-law – and disloyal enough to betray his brothers and friends as he manipulates his way to the crown.

Director Dansie highlights the themes of political intrigue, betrayal, conspiracy and chilling danger through a fine ensemble that brings to life the medieval mayhem in a modern setting that doesn’t feel archaic despite the language.

Burfield excels as Queen Elizabeth as she mourns the loss of her two little boys – the princes in the tower- and attempting to protect her daughter, the Lady Elizabeth (Gina Cameron). George shines as Buckingham who is shocked when he is ultimately betrayed by King Richard and Miriam Keane stands out as Catesby whom she plays less as a thug and more as an informer and agent-provocateur.

There are many reasons this production holds the attention for three hours but paramount are the exchanges between Csorba, George and Burfield. The acting, dialogue and direction are superb and overall this is a captivating play with great naturalistic style which does just about everything right.

The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s Richard III is on at the Little Theatre until August 17. Tickets here.

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