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Editors Choice

Richard III
Played by Konstantin Raikin, art director and star actor of the Satirikon Theatre.
Olga Slobodkina

onstantin Raikin, the art director and star actor of the Satirikon Theatre, thinks “it is quite useful to play negative characters” (no matter what the priests say), because one finds the sprouts of their horrible qualities in oneself and gets rid of them by acting the role through. According to him, negative roles are a kind of a catharsis for the actor.

Richard III is probably one of the most monstrous characters in the world literature. However, Raikin, who is brilliantly playing Richard in one more interpretation of Shakespeare’s play, gives the spectator a new insight into the nature of the notorious personality. At the beginning of the performance Richard (who is washing his face and brushing his teeth) explains to us: God gave him a terrible body—a withered arm, a hump and crippled legs. So he feels very different from the rest of us, and has no hope to be loved by anyone. Therefore, the only gratification he can get from life is having the English crown on his head, the head of a freak. Since there are many lives between him and the throne he is ready to destroy those who are on his way—beautiful and similar—for he is alone, unique.

A new translation by G. Ben and A. Druzhinin, adapted by the theatre, sounds very modern and the whole performance, directed by Yuri Butusov, is not a tragedy, but a tragi-farce, which only intensifies the cynicism of the main character, who is a serial murderer.

Contemporary music used by the creators of the production is in line with the main idea of the performance, in which every scene is a stunning innovation. For example, when Clarence gets killed in the Tower his two assassins just pour wine into their glasses and take their turns throwing it at the victim; and the murder of the boy princes in the Tower with the pillows they used for playing with each other.

However, “bloody thy art, bloody will be thy end”, says Richard’s mother in her curse and prophesy. At the end of Act II Richard, who demands a horse on the battlefield, gets a pillow instead, then another one and is killed by them in the same way he killed his nephews.

The only drawback of the performance, from my point of view, is that Act I, which is undoubtedly very strong, is too long while Act II seems to be short and inexpressive as compared to Act I as if everything has already been said.

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