For the second year, Trafalgar Studio introduces Trafalgar Transformed with a bang. To start their new season, what’s better than Martin Freeman portraying King Richard III in the classic Shakespeare play? My main motivation was to see Martin Freeman and Gina McKee acting live on a stage, and I came out mind blown, and somewhat scared.
In my discovery of London’s very different theaters, Trafalgar Studio definitely seems very, very new. It is not your classical looking theater, as the two studios it contains are reshaped with each new plays and musicals they hold. For Richard III, several seats were added to the sides due to high demand, in addition to the seats added at the back of the stage.
I had only read parts of Richard III, so I had an idea of what I was going to see, but nothing really defined. I knew it was going to be disturbing, violent, and bloody. The creepiness started as soon as I stepped into the Studio One, with an eerie sound welcoming the audience. The set was unique and didn’t change. The set showed an office, with elevators, a central meeting table, several working desks, and some more elements on the sides of the room, outside the main stage. Usually, when I am waiting for the show to start, I look all around me. This time, I noticed something I didn’t realize when I entered the studio: one of the characters, Queen Margaret, was already on the side of the stage, seated on a bench, and looking sad. I mean, they really know how to set the right atmosphere.
From beginning to end, Richard III is stunning. The crew around it did a great job! The light and sound effects worked perfectly well, the modern setting fit the characters and the story, the costumes were on point… Some elements, like the TVs, added so much more meaning to some scenes.
The cast stood tall as an ensemble, and not one performance was weaker than another. Martin Freeman as Richard III was phenomenal and portrayed the leader as cruel, scary, and violent. Plus, his death scene probably had the most impact on me. You should have seen his face at that moment. It reminded me how different a performance on stage is different from what you can see on a screen, and it’s awesome. Gina McKee as Queen Elizabeth, Maggie Steed as Queen Margaret, and Lauren O’Neil as Lady Anne, impressed me the most. It was a delight to see such powerful and strong performances. The audience also played a part in Richard III, as the Citizen of Verona, used in several scenes. Casts like this one are why more people need to go to the theater!
Jamie Lloyd succeeded in starting the beginning of this new season of Trafalgar Transformed, and in directing a great modern production of a classic play. During the play, I mostly felt uneasy, but not because it wasn’t good, just because some scenes were very violent, and I was very very close to the stage. In the end, it was a very powerful production, with an amazing cast, and I had a great time!
Rating : 4/5
If you’re interested in checking out this theater, or if you loved the movie East is East (That everyone should see), the stage version is currently playing for the second part of Trafalgar Transformed, through January 3rd! And for more information, you can check their website.