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
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate