“Rockspeare: Richard III”, Lakespeare and Co. At Live in Ya Lounge Studio (Mallee Pavilion, EPIC), August 7-8. Reviewed by ARNE SJOSTEDT.
IN a dual live stream/live event held out of the Live in Ya Lounge Studio in EPIC, this production of Richard III promised to bring rock to the bard.
Presented as part of the Where You Are Festival with the support of the ACT government, in a stylised production, the show used a pastiche of design and performance approaches to loosen up the presentation, as it danced between the need to play to the expectations of an at-home and live audience.
Amidst an intelligent performance from Dene Kermond as Richard III, and many stand-out moments from a polished cast, despite its exciting opening, the hollow echo left by the absence of very much rock music was initially noticeable. It then faded away as the story took hold and you got down to the traditional, familiar business of enjoying theatre.
Certainly, Lexi Sekuless rocked her performance as Lady Anne. In an immaculately designed costume from Fiona Victoria Hopkins, Sekuless was the epitome of nobility, grief and grace.
As was Duncan Driver, as he took Clarence to his grave with depth and precision. The detail of his performance was stunning, mowing down the live-streaming camera like an experienced, nuanced professional.
Perhaps it’s all his time hanging out with Bell Shakespeare and Australian television veteran Christopher Stollery, who, while not getting to spend much time gracing the stage as King Edward, showed up with all the impact and aplomb you would expect.
When a playful, enigmatic Kermond wasn’t roaming about with apparent lack of care for whoever might be privy to his plotting, much of the show’s blocking felt quite stilted, although some of this would be explained by the 1.5-metre COVID-19 social distancing restrictions the cast were working under.
Also, as director Sekuless would be aware, it takes practice and a legitimate take on what is being said and done to effectively communicate the bard’s lines. And, vitally, appreciation that good swathes of the audience may not be as familiar as the cast are with key plot points or the meaning behind the verse.
In a slimmed down 90-minute version of the original, this was a production where some sections of dialogue felt rushed and hard to follow.
The use of females in a number of the lead male roles perhaps compounded this, and made for some moments where despite the goodly intentions of the director and cast, the lack of familiar or meaningful codifiers made it difficult to get into the meat of the scene.
In a sometimes awkward show that begged for more time and confidence spent exploring the bold sonic impact the application its rock theme could have throughout its performance, this production had many fine moments worth shaving off the COVID-19 beard growth and braving the rainy wintery night for.