Richard III was one of the biggest crowd pleasers of its day. A poster for one of the first performances listed the full title as The Tragedy of Richard III: Containing the Treacherous Plots Against His Brother Clarence, the Pitiful Murder of His Innocent Nephews, His Tyrannical Usurpation, with the Whole Course of His Detested Life and Most Deserved Death.
The Elizabethans loved to hate Richard III. It’s easy to imagine the groundlings hissing and shouting as Richard plotted to steal the crown from his own brother and nephew, wooed Lady Anne Neville after killing her husband, and chopped the head off anyone standing between himself and the throne.
But there’s also something infectious and appealing about this hunchback King. He looks us in the eye when he speaks. He’s got a wicked sense of humor. He’s ambitious…just like us. What’s so wrong with that? It’s not until we start to see the intense human suffering and grief that he leaves in his wake that it becomes clear that a leader without a conscience can be a dangerous thing, indeed.
In this production, we put the audience in the middle of the action. Richard can reach out and touch us, look us in the eye, and appeal to us personally. We have tried to create a timeless feeling that evokes the historical period of the play while at the same blending some modern elements, reminding us that the dangers of tyranny are as real today as they were five centuries ago.