I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
I am going to have to see a more traditional version of this play before I will be able to give a true opinion of it. I went to see the Almedia Theatre version at my local movie theatre and I didn’t care for this staging of the play.
The setting was extremely spare. There was only one room and all of the actors were on set all of the time. No furniture, only a series of buckets, which puzzled me a first. No real costumes, either. All the actors were dressed in T-shirts and jeans or sweatpants. When not involved in a scene, the actors would stand by the wall of the one-room set.
The reason for the lack of costume became apparent as the buckets were brought into action. Containing water, soil, and stage blood, they were slung around with abandon and everyone ended up covered in something. Why bother with elaborate costumes when you’re just going to roll everyone in the mud and blood?
But what capped things off for me was the man in the role of Richard II. He had a nervous tic which distracted me beyond my ability to ignore it. Even while delivering emotional speeches, he was rubbing or scratching his butt. What I noticed (early in the play) I just couldn’t un-see and it made it next to impossible for me to concentrate on the dialog and plot.
So, nothing to do with the play itself or with Shakespeare’s writing, but I’m going to have to see another production in order to have an unbiased opinion of Richard II.