Royal video nasties

24th February 1995 at 00:00
RICHARD III Derby Playhouse

Missed the latest Tarantino blood-flood? Try Shakespeare's snuff-movie. Russell Dixon's Gloucester not only reflects on his woo-and-win skills, he collects his victims' grisly deaths on video. And, as each descends below stage, cameras follow to screen their drowning, hanging and disembowelling. Dixon has created many of Ayckbourn's comic monsters so it's no surprise to find lugubrious humour in his part-Quasimodo, part Hannibal Lecter Crookback, nor the psychotic danger in his whispered confidentiality of his opening speech.

Director Mark Clements overdoes the pointing-up of humour but there's a lot to appreciate. It's a pity the long first act was not extended to put Richard's conning of the Londoners before the interval - Dixon's triumphant punching the air would be a superb end and it contrasts with the final moment when Richard, ascending steep steps in a massive robe, is crowned and - sits silent. The play is not about reigning; Richard no sooner climbs than falls and the aching pause reveals the vacuum within him, to be filled by fears.

In a modern-dress production where Edward IV's death is discussed in a bus queue, Kim Wall's Buckingham is fine as a suited PR front-man. Before Bosworth, Richard channel-hops his TV where he finds himself as Laughton's Hunchback and Hopkins' Hannibal, until black and white ghosts invade the screen. His final plea for a horse is the desperation of someone who knows there's no hope of a jeep.

Runs 3 hours 35 minutes. To March 11. Tickets: 01332 363275.

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