RYLANCE’S “DEEPLY UNCONVENTIONAL” RICHARD III. We saw the Shakespeare’s Globe production of Richard III with Mark Rylance, and it was as exhilarating as we had expected. We had never seen Richard III played the way Rylance played him. My image of Richard III is the active spider king that Olivier created. Rylance played him as malevolent, but found laugh after laugh in the text. Richard played to the audience, even talking to one or two audience members who were seated at the side of the stage. I looked up the reviews after seeing the show. The critics remarked on the originality of the performance.
Michael Billington’s review in the Guardian (from the London production): “a fascinating, deeply unconventional Richard that will grow even richer with time”. Ben Brantley’s review in the New York Times: “His interpretation…is as thoroughly thought out as it is daring…..this Richard is unafraid to come across as a clown….”
Yet, as Brantley says, “the mission of the 16-year-old Shakespeare’s Globe…has been to recreate the experience provided by its namesake, which existed back in the Elizabethan heyday of you-know-who.” The stage is lit by lots of candles. The musical instruments and the costumes are as close as they can be to those of Elizabethan times. Is Rylance’s performance a break with tradition?