Review: Richard III at HOME

It was the late, great, Mr Manchester himself, Tony Wilson, who said if it’s between the truth and the legend, print the legend (someone else said it first but all should defer to Tony).

I’m a sucker for legend. It’s always more fun.

The Bard must have listened to Tony Wilson (I know, but like I say, Tony Wilson transcends all, including the linear concept of time), when writing the dark, blood-thirsty account of, let’s say, Richard III’s ‘driven’ ascent to the throne (and subsequent exit via a bloody end on the battlefield).

Indeed history tells us he wasn’t responsible for all those in his path who fell by the wayside.

The death wayside.

But Shakespeare tells it different.

I recall watching the unbelievable account of the discovery (and verification of such) of Richard’s skeletal remains underneath a car park in Leicester.

One such expert involved (no names – that is, I can’t remember it), was distraught and almost defensive of Richard as a long lost love, when it was suggested that he was anything but righteous and, indeed, up-right. I don’t think suggesting that he was suffering from scoliosis of the spine is somewhat scurrilous in nature, but perhaps she’d taken Shakespeare’s depiction of the King somewhat quite to heart.


Hopefully she swerved Headlong’s production of Richard III at HOME Mcr last night, as it pulled no punches in staying true to this dark tale, directed by John Haidar.

Whilst the words are Shakespeare’s, their delivery belonged completely to Tom Mothersdale in the lead role who owned both those and the character.

Tom Mothersdale as Richard III, pic credit Marc Brenner

We were truly in the presence of extraordinarily talented actors all round, there was only one person in Theatre 1 last night and that was he and his wonderfully, dark, deliciously humorous, physically contorted creation (a wonderful actor ‘creates’ his character – and he did), of one Richard III.

Indeed, and I don’t mean this anything other than complimentary, shut your eyes or even squint your eyes and you could be watching, hearing, being captivated by another legend (and kind of first namesake) Rik Mayall – the mannerisms wild, but appropriate, the asides and occasional breaking of the 4th wall biting and ‘laugh out loud’ funny, but these elements were contained to those moments where warranted, suddenly reminding the audience of the evil behind the character (none moreso when he proceeded to bite off an ear – oh.yes).

Highly stylised, the use of two way mirrors which would light up to reveal the ghosts of those slain, the smoke, the scissor-sharp strings of the music which punctuated the scenes and the crackling and flashing of the lighting to depict death and destruction, all contributed to an electric atmosphere in Theatre One, when at times you could hear a pin drop (those times were usually followed by a ‘jump out of your skin’ moment.

I’m still recovering.

Tom Mothersdale as Richard III,  John Sackville as Henry, pic credit Marc Brenner

Indeed, when towards the end, Richard uttered those immortal words,

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse…

I was ready to dash out onto Whitworth Street and track one down, such was my desperation to prolong his life and, in turn, the play.

Tom Mothersdale as Richard III, Heledd Gwynn as Ratcliffe, Stefan Adegbola as Buckingham, Derbhle Crotty as Elizabeth – pic credit: Marc Brenner

Whatever the truth of this contorted monarch, in both character and body (or not), the entire outfit delivered a legendary performance.

Catch this extraordinary production at HOME until this Saturday 4 May.

For times, tickets and all other details, visit Home Mcr website





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