King Richard is once again making an appearance on stage, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company. This year, the production is part of the World Shakespeare Festival that sees companies from around the world presenting the Bard’s plays in their own language and their own style. A great cultural addition to Britain in Olympic year.

At Stratford on Avon, the production is one of three plays in the series Nations at War. Curated and directed by Roxana Silbert, an associate director of the RSC, the series also comprises King John and a new Mexican play by Luis Mario Moncada called “A Soldier in Every Son – The Rise of the Aztecs”.

Photograph of the Swan Theatre, Stratford on Avon taken by Michelle Walz Eriksson ; obtained through Wikimedia Commons.

The season examines ambition, power, leadership and family loyalties and betrayals, and the combination of politics and personal emotions. Silbert says that at the heart of Richard III is his relationship with his family … the women are central to Richard III. Ricardians who have always recognised the exceptional closeness of the Yorkist Plantagenet family will welcome this concept.

Although Roxana Silbert has had to trim the text (not as ruthlessly as Colley Cibber we hope) and has given it a contemporary setting, the heart and essence of the story are timeless. Richard’s relationship with his family, says Silbert, his ambition and greed are equally timeless.

Richard will be played by Jonjo O’Neill who happens to be the same age as Richard when he was killed. In a play which is totally driven by the central character, she feels that O’Neill can combine the playfulness with a very dark core. “Richard is a tremendously attractive character and his bravado is part of his charisma, but he does some unforgiveable things and that makes our relationship to him very complex”.

The Nations at War series will be presented at the Swan Theatre in Stratford . Anyone lucky enough to be in the UK this northern summer can visit for more information about the production and the performance dates.


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