The cumulative effect of this complex play was overwhelming and the cast received a well earned standing ovation. David Tennant’s generous performance as the betrayed priest king made room for Michael Pennington’s furious and despairing John of Gaunt and Oliver Ford Davies’ wonderfully nuanced Duke of York as the certainties of his world crumble before the realities of shifting power.
The staging is beautifully crafted to illustrate the plays themes. Richard, the priest king in flowing white robes and Christ like tresses contrasts starkly with his disaffected lords, unshaven, bald,treacherous and armoured. The king flits back and forth between his small coterie of trusted advisors and his angry vassals.
Nigel Lindsay’s Bolingbroke, brutal and self assured at the beginning of the play visibly quails before the broken king as he foretells treachery and dissent which will soon face the usurper. This is played out on stage as lords queue up to throw down their gauntlets at each other, repeating and multiplying the challenge to trial by combat demanded by Bolingbroke at the start of the play.
A wonderful performance, get tickets if you can!