Crowds cheer Mark Rylance's Richard III at the Globe

Jul 30, 2012

Tragedy forced Rylance to quit the Olympic opening ceremony, but his stage villain is a crowning glory

What you need to know
Tim Carroll directs the Globe Theatre's revival of Shakespeare's Richard III. This is an all-male production, based on the original late 16th century practice in which no women appeared on stage.

One of Shakespeare's best-known and most charismatic villains, the monstrous Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is determined that he should become king of England. The play follows his cunning, gleeful and homicidal journey to power.

Mark Rylance, star of the West End hit Jerusalem, and former artistic director of the Globe, plays Richard. The actor recently pulled out of the Olympic opening ceremony after the death of his stepdaughter, but kept his commitment with the Globe.

Richard III runs until 8 October at the Globe. It will transfer to the Apollo Theatre in the West End on 6 November.

What the critics like
Forget the Olympics for just a second, says Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph, Mark Rylance is back at the Globe. He's in his element here, with a performance "steeped in a greater than usual aura of vulnerability" that lends melancholy to his clowning villain. This is a "refreshing, challenging, bold" production and to have Rylance back on stage is the "crowning glory of the summer's theatre".

Rylance's twisted Richard is one to remember, says Libby Purves in The Times. In gold doublet and orange stripes, he appears like a big, affable bee, and buzzes around the stage with a satirical air, making "the most of his character's levity", while giving hints to his casual murderousness. The great Rylance is "once again dancing his bow" to cheers.
Rylance has created a fascinating, deeply unconventional Richard that will grow even richer with time, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. This is a self-hating Richard, permanently despised, the unwanted younger brother. When Rylance's slow-burn character does finally unleash his fury, "the effect is like a cobra discharging its venom".

What they don't like  
Rylance is engaging as Richard, an impish schoolboy and an isolated oddball, but what's missing is an air of real danger, says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. "This Richard rarely feels chillingly cruel."  It's an interpretation that will "vex more than a few purists, but it's a crowdpleaser".

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