Theatre: On the Fringe

Richard III BAC - Yerma BAC - Into The Darkness Laughing New End Theatre

RICHARD III was reportedly the first of Shakespeare's play to make it to America, and this Oddbodies adaptation certainly reflects the cultural exchange. Paul de Ville Morel's Richard has ditched the hunchback for a rock'n'roll drumkit and a pair of sunglasses, providing a percussive patter to bring out the violence and brashness in Shakespeare's text at the same time as it satirises it. His accomplice, Tanya Scott-Wilson, adds both to the viciousness and the comedy, distorting her face through a repertoire of Rabelaisian grotesquerie as she runs a gamut of roles from priest to assassin. These are the only actors you need to know about, for - like those who competed with Richard for the right to succession - their numbers have been savagely cut down, leaving a cast of two.

Shakespeare would have loved this interpretation of his play. Although little is known of his political and religious views, there is no doubting his passion for words as multi-dimensional phenomena, capable of reflecting a wide range of undercurrents in any situation. The duo's ironic take on the play unearths new comic meanings without altering any of the Bard's text. For instance, when Scott-Wilson, as a gurning assassin sent to murder George, Duke of Malmesbury, whispers "Look behind you" to her victim, it's pure pantomime.

Earlier, when the same Duke minces on to the stage and says he has been sent to the Tower "because my name is [flounce] George", the line gets laughs as a piece of over-sensitive foppery, as well as emphasising the tragedy that Edward IV has persecuted him, rather than Richard, Duke of Gloucester, because he has misinterpreted the warning that he will be overpowered by somebody whose name begins with "G".

This is a funny, clever and beautifully edited production. Scott-Wilson's stunning rubber-faced skills work well with de Ville Morel's funky stage presence. Is it a coincidence that a man playing Richard III should have a name that sounds like "devil morals", or that his drumkit should be called Premier? Whatever, there is no doubt that while some of the text adapts well to rock'n'roll, other parts - such as Lady Anne's protests to Richard that her dead husband's wounds "Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh" - would be equally at home in a Lorca play.

There's a lot of Lorca about at the moment, and Adrian Linford's set for Yuval Zamir's production of Yerma taps into his visceral preoccupations using a white, blood-spattered curtain as backdrop.

The sound effects heighten the sense of bubbling frustration in the play: as Yerma - whose name means "barren" - cries out about her longing for a baby, the sound of a gushing stream contrasts cruelly with her enforced infertility. Galit Hershkovitz, in the role of Yerma, rises to the challenge of conveying the play's passion, but there are times when there is no core to her emotion, and it seems that she is just shouting. When it comes to explosive frustration Catherine Cusack, who plays the artist Modigliani's mistress in Patrice Chaplin's play Into the Darkness Laughing, is a far better embodiment.

Cusack gives a focused and moving performance as the young Jeanne Hebuterne, the girl who has watched love for a genius evaporate into poverty and alienation. Her alcoholic lover lies dying of tubercular meningitis off stage, as she desperately seeks for non-existent hope through memories of their early romance.

She is supported by Mel Raido who, as the mentally ill Maurice Utillo, is superb. There are problems with the pacing, but otherwise - in this theatre that was formerly a mortuary - it's a thoughtful, if harrowing, evening out.

`Richard III' is at BAC, London SW11 (0171-223 2223) to 30 May; `Yerma' is at BAC to 13 Jun; `Into the Darkness Laughing' is at New End, London NW3 (0171-794 0022) to 13 Jun

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
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    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'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power