Review: Crookback at the Etcetera theatre

Deciding which productions to see is a balancing act: finite time, finite money and some times the decision is in the details. From the outset, Crookback (at the Etcetera theatre in Camden till July 21st) had two things in its favour: it’s only 70 minutes long and – as the promotional material indicated – it managed to offend the Richard III society. You know the feud is little more than a publicity stunt but it’s intriguing nevertheless.

Getting the obvious out of the way, Crookback is an adaptation of Richard III as an one man show. The editing of the text is good and the production zips along. Tim Welham (creator and performer) has great facility with the Shakespearean language and has obvious fun with the material. Some characters come off better than others (his Richard III has a delicious matter of fact quality while the female characters can be sketchy).

The staging has nice ideas – especially the tape recorder destroying the tape and the screeching hissing sound taking over the room as Richard III is tormented by his conscience. I also enjoyed the fact this Richard III is a list keeper, crossing each victim on the blackboard. I always knew that list keeping is a sign of moral weakness.

Despite the high energy, it’s difficult to see what’s the point beyond the acting showcase. It’s a nice idea working well, but it’s not an essential new approach to the play.

Air condition rating: 4/5, despite the heatwave and the fact this is a black box above a pub, the temperature was not insufferably hot.

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