Experience Shakespeare's murdering King like never before and who knows? you may even survive the experience...
To undertake an accurate retelling of Richard III in only an hour and with only one (professional) actress would seem to be too much for even the most talented of actresses. Yet, Carding achieves this Herculean task by cleverly drawing the audience as her supporting cast. Whether an audience member replies in character or stays in stunned silence, Carding is able to move the show forward. Often relying on Richard's own, and perfectly within the plays text, monologue each audience member either assists with the murders before meeting with their own messy ends. The oppressive and intimate atmosphere created by Carding placing her portrayal of Richard within the confines of a tight circle is so effective and entirely gives the play its fluidity. With the use of an office swivelling chair, Richard moves from character to character, provoking violence and whispering words of flattery. With the dispatch of each character marked by the placement of a post it note with "Dead" written on it the audience are very much made to feel that the blood spilt does indeed stain their hands as well as Richard's. Never was this illusion of belief more clearly demonstrated than when Richard attempts to incite the murder of the two young Princes. The audience member coerced into this appalling act was clearly horrified and wrestling with their conscience, even uttering that "they would have to live with the actions for the rest of their lives" Richard's response? a grin and replying "oh go on! the money's good"
It is Carding''s portrayal of Richard as a murderous individual whose lust for power was also his undoing. But at the same time playing him as a human being who's actions were extreme but perhaps not entirely monstrous as had been previously implied. Indeed, under the powerful and accusatory stares of the ghosts who were haunting him one could almost feel a pang of sympathy for him. Richard had not received the security and sense of accomplishment that he had longed for and he realises that his murderous actions had added to his feelings of both emotional and physical inadequacy. Carding has created a wonderfully believable Richard that, complete with hugely effective hump and listless walk, ensures that the audience has not even the slightest hesitation in entering into the gory tableaux that is put before them. Carding has an impressive and lengthy experience with Shakespearean characterisation and the delivery of Richard's lines is both compelling and powerful.
Of particular note is the effective way that modern technology is used without it feeling unnecessary or gimmicky. Richard receives reports of the battle via mobile phone text, which serves as both a way to increase his irritation as the messages are often overlapping. This also nicely overcomes the issue of the lack of supporting cast who must deliver a particular piece of information at the relevant time. Carding also expertly deals with sudden thumps or noises without once dropping out of character which, coupled with the occasional ad lib to audience members, accentuates the authenticity of her performance.
As the play draws to an end and Richard falls to the floor, marking his own body with its own post it noted death certificate the audience are left in dumb founded awe. Carding herself after taking her well earned applause is clearly exhausted and this is not a performance that would convince without a 100% level of commitment and passion.
With the challenges of bringing theatre in a relevant way to an audience that is growing ever smaller and less willing to move outside of "what they know", it is hugely exciting to see Shakespeare brought to life in a way that still has the power to entrance. Whilst never taking away from the sheer brilliance of The Bard's writing, Carding's performance serves as a example to all. A statement of intent that no matter how hard and great the challenge to create and innovate there are still actors who are talented and bold enough to dream and dare to push the envelope. I leave the venue feeling that what I have experienced hasn't so much broken the fourth wall but smashed it to smithereens.
Richard III is putting in an appearance at Brighton Fringe from the 9th June until 11th June 2016 and you can book tickets here , Sweet Venues The Dukebox