Richard II: Who is fit to abdicate the crown?

davidtennant_richardIt’s been coming for a while, but at last, this past week, it was formally announced that David Tennant will return to the Royal Shakespeare Company to play the title role in Richard II. Greg Doran starts his time as artistic director with an exciting season that, in addition to Tennant’s Richard II, includes stage adaptations of  Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the Swan theatre. But undoubtedly the big media story is Tennant as the deposed king.

We have several months to debate actors, performances  and who is going to play Bolingbroke, and Lyn Gardner at the Guardian kicked off the game with a collection of her favourite Richard II moments. It’s breathtaking to see such rich tradition, with the technology providing image and sound at our fingertips.

I wanted to add two audio clips, to round off this impressive media gallery. First, Ed Redmayne as Richard II and Andrew Buchan as Bolinbroke in the Abdication scene, from the 2010 Donmar production.

John Heffernan, one of my favourite young actors and a great Richard II for the Tobacco Factory by all accounts, reading “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground” from Act 3 Scene 2.

I tried to find clips with Fiona Shaw playing the part, and there is indeed a filmed version of the production, but with little luck. Anyone can point me to the right direction?

Last word to the new contender: David Tennant’s thoughts on the upcoming production.

P.S. Through the Illuminations pages and blog, I see the hashtag championed for the new production is #R2DT. It’s hard to express how perfect that looks.

7 responses to “Richard II: Who is fit to abdicate the crown?

    • I am gutted I never saw the Tobacco factory production, but going out of town is not always easy. I am really impressed with John H in recent years, and rumour has it he ‘ll do Edward II for the National next. That would be something.
      I ‘ll try to track down the Sam West radio version, as that production has a great reputation.
      Andrew Scott as Richard II is a brilliant idea. With most actors, you can’t imagine them at the beginning of the play, and you can see them at the end. With Andrew Scott, it’s the other way around.

  1. Poly,
    Illuminations produced the BBC television version of Fiona Shaw’s Richard II, which came from Deborah Warner’s National Theatre production. It was the first Shakespeare that we adapted for the BBC, several years before Macbeth with Tony Sher and Harriet Walter. The recording – which has many wonderful things – is mired in rights problems but we are trying – and have been for years – to get it out of the archive and into the world on DVD. The RSC production this autumn is a further spur to doing so.

    • That would be wonderful. Hope it happens. There is certainly an audience for it.
      I love that in recent years, recordings and digital versions go hand in hand with the staged productions without undermining the live experience. In my opinion, it has worked very well. Hope you are working with the RSC on many new projects.

  2. I’m with Jeremy, I’d love to see Andrew Scott play Richard. I’ve always had a special fondness for the play having studied it for A-Level. My teacher had a thing for Derek Jacobi so his was the version I ‘learned’ the play with.
    David Tennant is definitely an interesting prospect. When it was announced he was playing Hamlet I thought he’d bring an interesting energy to the role, and he did. I think we could be in for something quite different from him here.

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