Review: Richard the Second, Omnibus Theatre

Tangle Theatre bring a unique ensemble energy to Richard the Second at the Omnibus Theatre

“Here cousin, seize the crown…”

There’s a remarkable energy to Tangle Theatre’s production of Richard the Second which does well more than blow away any cobwebs you might imagine on William Shakespeare’s history play. Adapted and directed by Anna Coombs, its shadow-bound political machinations echo thoughtfully from medieval castles to Westminster corridors.

The play has been condensed somewhat, the dramatis personae filleted down, so that the company of five can multi-role up to three characters where necessary. Thus there is no two ways about it, prior knowledge of the play is needed and even then, I’d’ve been hard-pressed to tell exactly who was who at several given moments.

In some ways, it aaaaalmost doesn’t matter too much if the detail on the supporting character level is a touch murky, as the focus blazes on the evolving relationship between Richard (Daniel Rock), Aumerle (Lebogang Fisher) and Henry Bolingbroke (Raheim Menzies) which speaks to massive questions about the nature of leadership and class.

Sibusiso Mamba and Courtney Winston both make an impact across their many roles and John Pfumojena’s songs build up a marvellous sense of atmosphere that carries the production a long way with its lush harmonies. Big choices make this a bold reinterpretation and if it doesn’t quite come off entirely, you can’t knock this level of ambition.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Bettina Adela
Richard the Second is booking at the Omnibus Theatre until 27th November

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