Richard The Third, Lyceum Theatre

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The action is set in an asylum, which is appropriate to the madness of the events that unfold.

Before the play begins, a chorus of masked, white-coated orderlies stare out blankly at the audience. They break unexpectedly into beautiful Medieval plainsong harmonies and their singing keeps the action flowing, often underlining the grim humour.

Director Ed Hall lightes the mood with black comedy during the worst violence: people are despatched by strangulation, stabbing, shooting and even chainsaw.

Corpses are shoved into body bags by the orderlies.

Richard Clothier brings an elegant brutality and power to the title role of the Tudor prince who betrays and murders his way to the throne.

He is authonatitive from the moment he begins the famous ‘now is the winter of our discontent’ opening speech and so charismatic you believe he could persuade a woman who knows he has killed her father and brother to marry him while a corpse is still warm.

His most famous victims, the ‘little princes in the tower’, are portrayed by two puppets and are quite mesmerising.

The all-male cast are uniformly excellent and the great thing about this production is that all the clever physical theatre business and props add to the excitement but are never allowed to detract from the playwright’s words.