me:dt

Richard II Review

This Royal Throne of Kings

Ah, the second tetralogy, (or is it the first? It’s like Star Wars. It was written later but is set earlier) it’s considered Shakespeare’s greatest sequence of histories. War! Murder! Betrayal! Intrigue! Usurping! What’s not to love?

The first play of the tetralogy is Richard II, and from the RSC this January, it is an absolutely stunning production. From the beautifully minimalist set (changes in setting are shown in images projected onto curtains of reflective beads, framing the broad proscenium stage, (which happens to be the stage which held the barricades of Paris in the first performance of the famed musical Les Miserables) creating everything from the the holographic depth of the great hall of the palace, to the looming ‘Blood Moon’ that ‘foretells the death or fall of kings’) to the moveable balcony, to the perfect replica of England’s coronation throne, to the authentically medieval costumes, it is a perfectly choreographed exhibition of Shakespeare’s exploration of Richard’s chiasmic fall from divine right. And the performances are as wonderful as the design.

At the heart of the play is David Tennant (best known as Doctor Who’s Tenth Doctor). His unceasingly elegant King Richard (in a long auburn wig, filigreed gold crown, and no less than seven costumes) simultaneously commands the vast space and invites the audience in on his inner emotional state. At once imperious and vulnerable, Richard is brattish and vaguely petulant at first. However, as Bolingbroke’s rebel forces move forward, and events escape his control, Richard discovers himself as a very witty, very clever man. He ultimately finds where his true power lies just before the literal and and proverbial last act.

Tennant had great fun tying the tragicomic spectrum into knots, alternately playing lines as serious or ironic, poignant or farcical, using an idiosyncratic whisper and his impeccable comic timing to make the audience almost hysterical. ('In the base court? The base court? The base court, where kings grow base!’)
In each performance at the Barbican he changed his performance for the deposition scene, (Act 4 Scene 1, to be precise) sometimes throwing things, or standing on the throne, jumping about, skipping, almost dancing, curtsying, obsequiously kowtowing, lying facedown on the stage, or despairingly curling himself into a ball and sobbing…
(He was improvising. We asked him.)

He also did something VERY interesting with the mirror during the 'is this the face’ speech. Instead of addressing his own reflection, at the line 'there is a brittle glory in this face,’ he turns the mirror so that he is reflecting the overhead light into Bolingbroke’s eyes, a trick Richard has apparently learned from Prince Hamlet (i.e. 'the purpose of playing, as 'twere, to hold the mirror up to nature’). In addition to making Richard seem a bit less narcissistic, this shifts the burden of 'brittle glory’ from Richard to Bolingbroke, in essence capturing the entirety of the cyclical nature and purpose of kingship in a few seconds of jigging about with a mirror.

The rest of the cast was brilliant as well, as is always important. There were a number of extremely compelling characters early in the play, representing the dying generation of the sons of Edward III, such as Julian Glover’s John of Gaunt, and Jane Lapotaire’s Duchess of Gloucester.

Of great interest in this production in particular is the storyline of the Duke of Aumerle. Portrayed by Sam Marks, Aumerle becomes Richard’s close friend and companion (read: paramour), before betraying and murdering him out of fear of being executed for treason. Aumerle’s betrayal, which turns on a sixpence, heightens the shock and tragic emotion of the play’s conclusion (It also means Richard gets to sound really surprised and heartbroken when he says 'thy fierce hand’). In the original text, Aumerle is not the murderer, but there is reason to believe that Shakespeare initially intended for him to be, but was forced to change it due to pressure from Aumerle’s descendants. This conclusion is supported in the incongruous appearance of Sir Pierce of Exton in the last act, and even the structure of the lines in which Exton’s name appears in terms of iambic pentameter, as though it has been added retroactively.

Jasper Britton played a cerebral and sympathetic, yet marvelously Machiavellian, Henry Bolingbroke, who was suitably in awe of Richard. The play ends with Bolingbroke being brought news of Richard’s death, which informed and gave new insight to Britton’s Henry IV the next day, this being the first time this company had preformed the plays in sequence.

As the lights dimmed on stage, and the house lights gradually went up, the singers in the balcony to the side of the stage gave a final coronach to the departed monarch, as King Richard appeared on the balcony, angel-like, in the white gown he wore in the final two acts of the play.

(Of course, this is what I wrote, but at the time it was more like:

richard. much david. much hair. good. me likey. such pretty. pretty words. much feels. the nucleus about which he weaves the arabesque tangles of byzantine wit. omg. he looking at me. wat i do. melting.)

David Tennant as Alexander Hamilton in The General From America, RSC 1996.

DAVID TENNANT AS ALEXANDER HAMILTON

DAVID TENNANT AS ALEXANDER HAMILTON

É melhor retirar-se e deixar uma bonita lembrança, do que insistir e virar um verdadeiro incômodo. Você não perde o que nunca teve, nem mantém o que não é seu. Se você é forte para dizer Adeus, a vida te recompensará com um novo Olá.
—  Jean Charles Rinelli
The Dark Tower: Exclusive First Look Images

Roland Deschain, a rough-riding knight who has lost his way, peers off into the horizon in search of the man who decimated his world – and is about to ruin many more. That’s the opening of both The Dark Tower film and Stephen King’s first book in the series, and here we see Idris Elba as this spiritual warrior, a gunslinging knight, who has the devil in his sights. The landscapes of South Africa stood in for Mid-World, a dimension ravaged by loss but still bewitching in its tragic beauty.

In Roland’s realm of Mid-World, there once were machines and high-technology, but that was ages ago, before things fell into decay. His custom six-shooters have a link to a mythic tale from our own world: “Forged from Excalibur,” Elba says. “A very special weapon.” The gunslinger doesn’t think of them as toys. He draws them only when there’s no other choice. “He’s not just a shoot ‘em up type cowboy,” Elba says. Here, Roland poses before an altar to the Crimson King, a demented entity who will be unleashed if the ethereal Tower that binds time and space ever falls.

The Dark Tower is partly set in our own time and place – present day New York. In this shot, a boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) studies sketches he has made of visions and nightmares that are flooding his head. There’s a foreboding tower, a man of shadows, figures with shifting faces, a shimmering red rose, trapped children, and doorways that stand all by themselves, with nothing in front or behind but whole other worlds in between. The “shine” that allows him to see these things also allows those who’d like to use his ability as a weapon to sense him.

Jake stands in the blasted wasteland of Mid-World, a solitary speck on the horizon of an endless desert. “Everybody around him thinks he’s crazy and he probably even thinks he’s a little bit crazy,” says director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel. “He’s having visions of this big, grand tower that binds everything and holds all the universes together, and he’s having visions of this one man, Roland, the Gunslinger that’s calling out to him.” It feels real to him, but “reality” means lots of different things in the world of The Dark Tower.

This is one of the portals between worlds – a decrepit Brooklyn mansion known as Dutch Hill, which literally roars to life around any intruder who tries to pass through its gateway. Production designer Christopher Glass said he wanted to take the supernatural premise and add real physics to it. “We’re trying to have rules, basically, for the way the house becomes a monster,” he says. “Wood shouldn’t suddenly become rubber. It should have particles and fibers and break. And when certain elements are not touching one another, things don’t levitate. Everything has to be touching for it to be alive. Otherwise it just falls, gravity takes over.”

Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black is an enforcer for the Crimson King who is capturing psychics to help topple the tower and free his master. He intends to be well-dressed for the apocalypse. His sleek, tailored suit is a contrast to the other demons and vampires who bow before him in this shot – creatures he considers animals, the definition of necessary evil. “The Devil’s a handsome man,” McConaughey says. “I’ve seen the pale Devil.” He shakes his head. “No, no, no. I’ve seen the Nosferatic Devil – no. I said, ‘Black suit, black coat – let’s look really sharp.’” Even his spiky hair seems design to impale. "A crow-vibe. We’ve also got some Brian Grazer in there,” he says, referring to The Dark Tower producer. “I said hair back, flames back, full face. I wanted to be completely exposed.”

It should be no surprise, but eventually Jake comes face to face with the hero from his visions and drawings. Roland is even more impressive in person. “He’s supernatural. He’s a knight of Mid-World. He has fast healing abilities. He’s not that easy to kill, and also, by the way, it’s very hard to get to him,” says Aracel. “He’s such a formidable fighter, gunslinger, and in battle it’s very hard to best the gunslinger.” The Man in Black already knows Roland’s one weakness, though – the people he cares about .

Portals between worlds work both ways, so Roland gets a taste of the Big Apple later in the film, following Jake through to our world as part of his newfound quest. Akiva Goldsman, who co-wrote the script, says he structured the story with the boy as a lens into the stranger elements of the saga. “The single biggest structural conceit is Jake as the point of entry,” he says. “Doesn’t every kid at one point think that the things in the shadows are real? Doesn’t every little boy imagine that there is a world that you can’t quite see?” Goldsman adds. “New York is literally like that. There’s the feeling of a labyrinth behind the face of the city, and I think that’s really consistent with a child’s imagination and the sense of a magical world hiding just beneath the surface.”

Director Nikolaj Arcel speaks with Tom Taylor and Idris Elba on the set. “In the beginning of the story Roland is kind of a lost soul. All he’s thinking about is killing the Man in Black, his arch nemesis,” Arcel says. “He’s all about revenge. He’s all about trying to track down this man who has hurt him throughout his entire life. Taken away his friends. Taken away like his father, his mother. Everybody. The love of his life… So this is where we find him. He’s a man blinded by the longing for revenge. That’s where Jake finds him.” Maybe there’s a way the boy can pull Roland back from this precipice. (source)

10

Doctor Who Gifset The Christmas Invasion- Rose, her mum, and Mickey all moving the Doctor into the Tardis. By the way, I love how calm Jackie Tyler is about entering the Tardis, and she just does her motherly duties making sure they have supplies and what-not while Rose explains to Mickey why she can’t fly the Tardis anymore. I mean most are like “Oh, my god, it’s bigger on the inside! How in the what? What is going on here? Why is it bigger on the inside, this is madness. This makes no sense at all.” But no Jackie is all, “Meh, so it’s bigger on the inside big deal. Let me just set this stuff over here while you set him down there.”