David Tennant has returned to his first love, the stage, in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard II. While many critics are making a great fuss over his hair, his performance is, unsurprisingly, blowing everyone away.
The Independent says: Tennant delivers the plaintive, self-pitying arias with a scathing irony for the most part, flecked by tiny surrenders to abject panic – as though he were at once sufferer and observer of the tragic process whereby, when the royal persona shatters, it exposes the naked, insecure person underneath.
The Guardian says: Tennant’s great achievement is to attract our sympathy to what the gardener calls a “wasteful king” who abuses power when he has it and who achieves tragic dignity only in his downfall.
Tennant does not disappoint. He delivers a vivid, intelligent performance, at least as mesmerising as the best of his TV work. He is certainly not afraid to make Richard dislikable says The Standard.
Tennant told The Independent that Richard II was a play he had loved since he first saw it at drama school and was completely transported by Derek Jacobi’s performance. “It’s quite unknowable,” he said. “There are no heroes and villains in it, just people trying their best and not managing to get on with their lives.”
Richard II was probably composed between 1595-1597. Much of King Richard II’s posthumous reputation has been shaped by Shakespeare, just like Richard III. While King Richard III has the benefit of many historians and his own society to defend his name against the iconic villain the bard created in his name, Richard II has been afforded no such rehabilitation yet. Famously, Richard II was used by the Earl of Essex to try make a point shortly before his unsuccessful rebellion against Queen Elizabeth in 1601. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth said “I am Richard II, know ye not that?”
Richard II will screen in international cinemas. Palace Cinemas hosted three Shakespeare plays filmed live at The Globe Theatre this year, and will be hosting Shakespeare plays National Theatre Live from this month until early next year. No word on Richard II yet as it is with another theatre but we’ll keep out fingers crossed (and shoot them an email or three). Meanwhile as part of the National Theatre Live programme, Whovians will be able to see their beloved River Song, Alex Kingston, on screen alongside Kenneth Branagh in Macbeth from November 2nd. You can buy tickets here.
Watch the trailer for Richard II and pop onto the Royal Shakespeare Company’s YouTube channel for production diaries.