Richard II (1993): Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
PrRichard II (1993)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Neil Dudgeon (Bolingbroke); Peter Hamilton Dyer (Aumerle); Ewan Hooper (Duke of York); Sue Johnston (Duchess of York); Wyllie Longmore (Bishop of Carlisle); James Maxwell (John of Gaunt); Fred Pearson (Earl of Northumberland); Linus Roache (Richard II).
This production ran from 9 September - 9 October 1993.
"Richard II is so often decked out in pomp, poetry and pageantry that it is a shock to come across a production which shows it for what it is - an intensely political play about England up the spout. In the Royal Exchange's gritty ensemble production in Manchester, you see a vision of a country facing social and economic ruin, one which has uncomfortable parallels with the here and now. Everywhere things are in a mess; standards have dropped, the ruling elite is (in Shakespeare's phrase) at sixes and sevens, while the country is presided over by a dithering leader with a slipping grip on reality. The seven-sided stage within this high-tech tubular capusle of an auditorium is almost bare. As if to emphasise the divine source of Richard's authority, his simple wooden throne goes up and down on wires. This seat of kings has the names John and Edward wittily scratched on it (as if on a school bench) by previous incumbents. At ground level nobles and bishops skulk about in chainmail or fox-fur, while the gorgeously attired Richard makes his first mistake in banishing Bolingbroke and expropriating his wealth. From then on, the sorry tale unfolds with a grim inevitability." ~ Robert Gore-Langton, "Richard for our times", Daily Telegraph, undated press clipping in Royal Exchange archive