FRINGE REVIEW – Richard, Greenside

*****

If you’re going to brave drowning in the dark in this flooding weather in order to see a show, that show had better be worth it.

Makoto Inoue’s Richard is.

This actor and mime artist has created an impressive non-verbal piece based on Shakespeare’s Richard III, that treacherous, conniving, yet strangely attractive villain distorted in mind and body. If you know the original play, you can see the actual words portrayed in this artist’s moves, flowing and jagged, always controlled and totally expressive, as are his features. If you do not know the play, you will still be mesmerized while being drawn into a journey of rich images, psychological taunts, a character grotesque with a smiling alter ego, a fascinating telling of a compelling tale.

Inoue moves to the accompaniment of a soundtrack that is an effective, intriguing and atmospheric mixture influenced by the sounds of music box, funfair, latin rhythms and more classically dramatic music, and blended with ‘Happy Birthday’, children’s voices and birds of prey calls, along with other discordant notes. Occasionally, especially towards the end, the volume becomes slightly too loud, but as it is preset, along with the dramatic lighting, and triggered by the performer himself, it cannot be adjusted mid-stream. A solo show indeed!

Brilliant use is made of a doorway or mirror frame created by the hanging of a long piece of red material. The colour is echoed in a scarf round the performer’s neck and in some of the lighting. All else is black bar his white face and a few gold details on his person. This creates a rich quality despite the basic nature of the set (just the hanging cloth). The ‘mirror’ allows shifts between the Richard “not shaped for sportive tricks” and what he might have been if he had developed differently or the face he plays to the outer world, fooling those around him while he manipulates them. The impressive transitions between these roles are skilfully wrought.

Richard’s relationship with his mother and reactions to his misshapen body are recurring motifs well-displayed. The famous first wooing scene, where Richard persuades the grieving widow of one he killed to become his wife, was interestingly stylised but the widow, Lady Anne, seemed to lack the detail of the rest of this piece. The echoing scene, however, where Richard attempts another such wooing (having disposed of his wife Anne) beautifully recreated the first scene but with a different result (the lady wooed is not so unsuspecting and has her own plots), and works exceptionally well.

There is so much detail in Richard, Inoue’s body continually on the move – though with variation in style and pace – with repeated motifs, intriguing shapes, stylised creations and psychological depth, that review space is insufficient. To find out all that is on offer, see the show!

By Danielle Farrow

5-13 August, 21:15 (22:00) @ Greenside

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