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I was intrigued when I saw that theatre company 'Antic Disposition' were performing Richard III, in a variety of Cathedrals across England, one of which was Bristol. (Another was Leicester, which created some minor controversy as of course Richard III was reburied there, and some of his supporters felt it was disrespectful to perform the play there. Personally I feel that after being dead for more than 530 years, Richard is probably over it all!)

So, I booked a ticket.


The performance took place in the Nave,  with the performance taking place in the centre, and we the audience down both sides, so it was a very intimate setting, and of course being in the Cathedral there was nothing in the way of sets, very little in the way of props, and minimal extra lighting.


It was very well done. Its a modern dress production. When we first met  the dastardly Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Toby Manleyhe was in black tie, respectable, but of course already scheming, and as the setting was so intimate, his soliloquies and asides were made to the audience, bringing us into collusion with him.




The production makes the most of the black humour in the play. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Richard is 'entreated' to take the crown. The line  "See where his Grace stands, ’tween two clergymen" contained a long and significant pause before the word 'clergymen', due to the rather threatening appearance of the two stone-faced, sunglasses wearing henchmen clergymen.

Toby Manley as Richard III, from Antic Disposition's site

Robert Nairne is excellent as Richard's right hand man, Catesby (doubly unnerving for me, as he reminded me in appearance of my brother, who is not (at least as far as I know) in the habit of carrying out assassinations to order.)


Richard, as he does, got darker through the play - chillingly giving his order to "Rumour it abroad. That Anne my wife is very grievous sick" to Catesby in Anne's presence..

It was all very well done. Richard's victims, following their various deaths, moved to the end of the Nave to watch him (except when the actors needed to cover other roles), showing the gradually rising body count, and the Princes in the Tower were such stroppy pre-teens one could almost forgive Richard for their fate.

The production is currently in France, and then at Temple Church in London 22nd August to 9th September. Worth seeing if you can make it.

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As I was in Stratford upon Avon to see Richard II (or to see David Tennant, or to see friends, depending upon how you care to look at it), I was able also to spend some time wandering around the town.

The hotel my friend and I stayed at, is, at least in part, a Tudor building. It is immediately next to New Place (the site of the house Shakespeare bought when he became successful, and where he died)

Our Room.
Many of the rooms, as well as having numbers, have names, for various Shakespeare plays and characters.

We were a little worried when we saw our room...

I was relieved that pies weren't on the room service menu. and to be fair, our room was perfectly pleasant, and not, apparently, one of the haunted rooms which the hotel has (we did book on a cheapish deal. Perhaps they charge extra for the ghosts.)

In the morning we wandered around the town a little.

Swan Fountain

I really liked this sculpture - it was put up in 1996 to celebrate 800 years since the grant of the town's rights as market town.

The Swans of Avon

There were lots of real swans on the river, too.

Later, on my way home, I went via Mary Arden's house (in fact at least 2 houses, with a working farm)

Farmhouse at Mary Arden's house

Quite apart from the Shakespearean connection, it really is a town with more than its fair share of lovely buildings, both in and just outside the town.


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