Richard III (A One-Woman Show) *****

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241)

Theatre (Classical, Interactive)

Aug 16-19

Emily Carding welcomes her audience in a plain black suit, white shirt, and red tie. Her hair is slicked back against her head, and she moves with a hunched limp. She welcomes the audience as old friends, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Clarence, Lady Anne, before seating the remained of the audience in a round circle. Her composure is measured, manipulative, and utterly masterful: quintessentially Richard III.

 

“Richard III (A One Woman Show)” is a subtle, lean, and controlled adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Taking place over an hour, Carding’s Richard croons over and cajoles the audience. Having established audience plants for each of the major characters in the play, Carding impressively improvises around the script. A wide eyed nod or nervous laugh from an audience member is seized upon by Carding, an affirmation of Richard’s machinations.

 

The deceptive genius of this structure is the emphasis it places on Richard’s character. Stripping the character to his Machiavellian core, Richard is hypnotically manipulative and, at times, acerbically funny. While employing the murderers of the Duke of Clarence, Carding turned to the latter’s audience plant and told him to stick his fingers in his ears; “oh shoosh Clarence, la la la.”

 

It is easy to imagine where this play could go wrong. An enthusiastic audience, or an overly quiet one, could disturb the calm of a lesser performer. Yet Carding handles her audience with a seasoned confidence, both as a masterful storyteller and a confident interpreter of Shakespeare’s play. This is a performance for solo dramaphile, the romantic couple, or the excitable festival group.

 

“Richard III (A One Woman Show)” is theatrical delight from a performer at the top of her craft. It is a festival essential, and not one to be missed.

 

Freddie Alexander