A review of Richard III at Piper’s Corner School by Rita Carpenter...

Fourways chose to stage this very classic play and present it as a comedy.

It opened with some delightful youngsters demonstrating amazing gymnastic skills in what was a circus ring. The red and white tops they wore were an indication of the red and white roses of the rival houses of Lancaster and York.

Rhydian Hill gave a stunning performance as the despotic crippled Richard and his sycophantic followers dressed as clowns pandered to his murderous intent to gain the throne.

With many of the cast playing several roles it was at times difficult to ascertain as to who they were.

Peggy Chamberlain was, as always, impressive in her role as Margaret the Queen Mother and Emma Gravelling playing Lady Anne, brought a gentleness to her role. Aaron Lee was excellent as a very lively Dorset and Rob Bowen as the traitor Buckingham reminded me one of the line from Hamlet ‘One may smile and smile and be a villain’ which seemed most apt to his performance.

Harry Petrie was impressive in his role as Clarence, Richard’s ill-fated brother as well as taking on two other roles with James Peach bringing a welcome touch of gravitas to roles of both Bishop and Archbishop.

The scene where the head of Hastings is revealed was suitably gruesome.

The makeup was amazing and I believe done by the cast members. Isabelle Foley was responsible for the costumes, which were superb and authentic.

This classic Shakespeare play being turned into a comedy was certainly a challenge and directors Rob Bowen and Becky Youens together with their usual three producers Rick Butler, Carolyn Kendall and Jonathan Marks acquitted themselves credibly.

Fourways never shy away from offering something different and for pushing the boundaries which they certainly did with this production.

Luckily the rain stayed off until almost the end of the play making this open air production most enjoyable.