A violent and destructive civil war – the War of the Roses – has finally ended and the York family are victorious over the former rulers, the Lancasters. The eldest of the York brothers, Edward, resides over a period of peace but that bores his youngest sibling Richard who is out to cause some trouble in his ultimate goal of rising to the throne himself…
Shakespeare – you’ve got to love him. Whether you’ve studied his plays as part of your Higher English qualification at school, or you’ve just sat down and enjoyed the film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes, the majority of us have at some point or another enjoyed the work of the famous playwright. And as part of Perth Theatre’s reopening season, you can enjoy one of his darkest yet more comical thrillers, Richard III.
Running daily for two weeks starting from Saturday 17th to Saturday 31st March, this play is one of Shakespeare’s best-known and will be performed by a strong cast including former Taggart star Alison Peebles, local actor Tom McGovern, and Joseph Arkley as the lead character, Richard.
Artistic director, Lu Kemp, is really excited to be staging the production in Perth Theatre and she’s told the audience to expect a thrilling spectacle when they come to watch this Shakespeare classic. It’s going to be a rollercoaster and I’m certain the audience will be gripped from the start!
“For those who have seen House of Cards – the first two seasons in particular – that’s the structure of Richard III,” she told me as we sat down for a coffee in the Perth Theatre café.
“It’s about seeing opportunity and going for it at all costs. Richard decides he’s not happy with peace and takes it upon himself to change things, taking everybody in his way out of the equation in the process. It’s a real thriller and all of the murders are on stage too which is exciting!
“I think the audience will really fall in love with Richard despite some of his actions – he’s a very loveable character. Although this play has previously been called the Tragedy of Richard III, it isn’t tragic it’s more of an entertaining piece. It’s going to be a rollercoaster and I’m certain the audience will be gripped from the start!”
The production will also feature performances five young actors from Perth Youth Theatre who will showcase their talents in front of their home crowd, meaning it’s a great chance to catch a glimpse of the next generation of talent. There could even be a future Ewan McGregor in there!
For Lu, the decision to push ahead with the production of Richard III in the reopening season programme was a no-brainer. She based her decision on the types of play that Perth Theatre’s audiences have traditionally enjoyed, as well as her own personal reasons – it’s one of her favourites!
“I was told that thrillers were always really popular here in years gone by, so that was what made me think this would be a good fit. Whilst it’s maybe not as well-known as Midsummer’s Night Dream, Hamlet or King Lear, it is still among the better known Shakespeare plays.
“Personally it’s one of my absolute favourite Shakespeare plays so for me; it’s really exciting to be staging this production here. It’s been a really quick process and we’ve had just four weeks to get everything ready but we’re raring to go and can’t wait for opening night.”
Although there aren’t any age restrictions in place for the production, Lu thinks that it probably wouldn’t be suitable for those under 10-years-old but with up to two kids under 16 admitted free with a paying adult, she’d be delighted to see children in the audience when the curtain goes up on opening night.
“My central aim with this production is that a 12-year-old kid can watch it and understand it completely. That’s not to dumb it down in any way – we haven’t stripped any of the language out and it’s very much as it’s supposed to be in that regard. It’s more about delivering it in a way that people can really get it.
“We did a trial with some of the senior pupils at Perth Grammar School. It was pupils that had never seen Richard III and knew nothing about the play. We let them come along and get a preview of the play and they all completely understood the play and really enjoyed it. That’s what I was always hoping for with this production so I’m really pleased.”
So if you haven’t been along to watch a production at the newly revamped Perth Theatre then make sure you get your tickets to watch this thrilling Shakespeare classic – it promises to be a colourful rollercoaster from start to finish!
To book your tickets for Richard III at Perth Theatre, visit the Horsecross website or call the Box Office on 01738 621031.
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