The Faction’s latest production comes across as confusing and takes a while to unravel but is a refreshing take on Shakespeare’s dark and bloody tragedy. 

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Known for their unique take on classic texts, for their latest project The Faction continue along this path, taking a deep and psychological look at the play.

Directed by Mark Leipacher, this production of Richard III looks more like a dance rather than a theatrical production, relying on a series of fluid movements.

The entire production moves with ease in part with thanks to the fluidity of movement by the cast, but at the same time it appears as though there is much underplaying of the violent nature of the play itself – which is at the very heart of the story.

Many of the deaths come along quickly and there is no real build up – it is over and done with almost dismissively – not giving the audience any real indication on how each of these deaths are rising Richard to the throne.

However, what the show does do well is gradually amp up the tension and look closely at the psychological elements of the play. For example Christopher York’s Gloucester is clearly a man with two sides to him: on the one side you have an astute and clever warrior and on the other a man willing to do absolutely anything to get the power that he wants and feels he deserves – all conveyed in a simple change of posture.

The use of lighting and sound effects is particularly effective in the production, expressing the danger and intensity of each scene well, highlighting key moments of the play and managing to capture the audience’s attention.

Yet despite this, the overall vibe of the production doesn’t feel professional or finished. This is mainly down to the starkness of the set and while this allows the audience to focus on the language and characters, it doesn’t make them feel involved with the show in anyway – rather making them feel like outsiders.

Christopher York as Gloucester is powerful and manic – but still has an element of normality about his character which makes Richard even more dangerous in a sense. He moves almost snake like and is effective in showing the underhand way in which the character handles events.

Kate Sawyer as Elizabeth is also effective – her grief as she learns of the death of her two sons is powerful and moving as well as the growing instability of her mind after the news is extremely raw and convincing.

Yet, it is an ensemble piece and everybody in the cast does perform their parts well – drawing out new interpretations of their characters.

It is a slow-burning production that does take time to unravel and there is plenty of positives in terms of performances to enjoy. But the overall feeling of the production can leave the audience feeling unsatisfied.

Richard III is on at the New Diorama Theatre until the 6th February. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://newdiorama.com/whats-on/richard-iii

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