Theatre reviews Edward III William Shakespeare Swan Theatre Stratford RSC


Edward III
A Review

The Swan Theatre

This play should have died at the time of the battle.

Not one of Shakespeare’s best plays. Long speeches and little action. A fact that the director Anthony Clark has taken to heart by introducing gimmicks. The actors go through their paces trying to make something out of this unwieldy dreary play. Maybe one of the King plays that should have remained in exile.

Trousered regimentation, red stripe for England, blue for France and tartan trouser for Scotland, lesser ranks made do with world war one putties, unsuccessfully matched with clunking plastic armour, distinguished the sides of King Edward the third of England, King John of France and King David of Scotland. A disagreement between the Kings leads to fighting, where other people get killed in their place. Rather like today the King’s send someone else to do the fighting, in this case their sons. David Rintoul gave a fine performance as King Edward, showing his acting prowess could be better used and Wayne Cater, as the King’s secretary Lodowick, relieves the boredom by making the audience laugh with his comic antics, all be it at times with modern gimmicks such as biro and red notebook.

Best summed up by one of three elderly male Americans, who during the interval announced, “I did not understand any of that. Let's go” and so said they departed to the nearest hostelry never to return. Having said that, the actors delivered the Elizabethan prose in clear beautiful diction, a rarity these days in the theatre and made the best of their speeches, facts that seemed to have been lost on these Americans. Full marks to the Royal Shakespeare Company for trying something different, but they should have wondered why this play had not been performed for so long, a fact that should have been obvious on the first reading. The audience applauded the actors at the end for the quality of their performance, and went home with their thoughts. © BA.

“Edward III” is in repertory at Stratford from the 10th of April until the 14th of September, 2002.

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