Car park’s cutting-edge evidence used to restage the death of Richard III - as it really happened

The first major production of the play since the discovery of the king’s remains will use the new archaeological evidence on the stage

The “Crookback King” has been despatched on stages around the world for more than 400 years to Richmond’s merciless cry: “The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.”

Now, for the first time since Shakespeare penned his masterpiece of Tudor propaganda, theatre audiences can witness the true – and no less brutal – circumstances of Richard III’s demise on Bosworth Field.

The first major production of the play since the identification of the Plantagenet’s remains in a Leicester car park this year will draw on the fresh archaeological evidence to create the most historically authentic denouement to Richard’s blood-soaked saga ever staged.

Loveday Ingram, who is directing the co-production between Nottingham Playhouse and York Theatre Royal, said Richard’s skeleton had revealed a number of vital clues.

“We now know exactly how he was killed,” she said. “What we are trying to do is reflect it as accurately as we can and re-enact it in a stylised way. We know he received a number of blows – two of which were fatal. One sliced through the top of his skull. The other was a stab wound which penetrated through the top of his skull,” Ms Ingram added.

The injuries also reveal the likely weapons used. It is believed that a halberd, an iron axe blade, removed the top of Richard’s head whilst a dagger punctured his brain – revealing that Richard was not wearing a helmet when he was slain. The angle of his injuries also suggests his assailants were mounted whilst he was on foot, demonstrating for once that Shakespeare was choosing to be historically authentic when he had the monarch shouting: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Also reflected in the fight scene will be battlefield evidence which proves that artillery was deployed at Bosworth. “We have cannon and explosions because that is what would have happened,” said Ms Ingram, who is directing her husband Ian Bartholomew in the title role.

The DNA confirmation that the Leicester bones were those of Britain’s most controversial king has offered both historians and Shakespeare scholars a wealth of insight.

Professor Lin Foxhall, of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester which made the extraordinary find, said the re-evaluation of Richard had only just begun.

“For a long time people said he was a monster but now we are discovering from our find that he was a lot more complicated than that. We know he had a spinal deformity but he was not a hunchback. He was an active individual who was right there in the thick of things. He was keen on hunting and falconry but he was also physically quite slight. He might have looked a little bit girly and delicate in his features,” she said.

The bones have revealed that Richard suffered from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, which would have struck him from the onset of puberty causing him progressively more severe pain until his violent death aged 32. The condition could also have profoundly shaped his  personality, giving him a desire to prove himself in the deeply masculine and physical world of medieval power politics.

It has also been revealed he did not have a withered arm or a limp, trademarks of some of the hammiest – and greatest – stage depictions.

“If I was portraying Richard it would be a much more sympathetic Richard than Laurence Olivier’s. We can now see a much more complex character than the evil villain that Shakespeare produced,” said Professor Foxhall.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'