The Liberal Agenda: Pop-Up Globe Shakespeare – Richard III – 5 stars


The latest Pop-Up Globe season has opened, and in my humble opinion, Richard III is one of the best I’ve seen to date.

It’s not only the sumptuous costumes, the brilliant acting and the better props, the whole space has undergone an upgrade. The pre-show gardens around the Pop-Up Globe have all been upgraded with fairy lights, tents, grottos, decent food, good wine and hang out zones making the whole event a full evening out.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Dr Miles Gregory’s direction and vision. He came in for an immense amount of nasty criticism from very precious actors on twitter for wanting to incorporate #MeToo into this latest Season which seemed very unfair. His move to use Māori dialogue in A Midsummers Dream was inspired and his decision to make the cast of Julius Caesar all female was experimental and brave (especially when the all female cast seemed to think playing a man meant they stood with their legs as far apart as possible and just shouted the lines), I was waiting for Actors Equity to condemn Pop Up Globe as heteronormative patriarchal sexual symbolism and demand the entire franchise be renamed Shakespeare Strap-On.

I digress.

TDB Recommends

Richard III is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays because no one does Machiavellian villainy quite like the dear Bard.

Stephen Butterworth is so gloriously nasty as Richard III, he captures the manner in which Richard manipulates the others and plays each faction off against each other. Butterworth’s transformation from  a user of guile and sweet words to gain his power to the brutal tyrant is played across his face and tone of voice. Richard III is one of those plays whose success rests heavily on the lead protagonist and Butterworth delightfully smacks this out of the park.

The female leads played by Anne Tenney, Ripeka Templeton, Amy Usherwood and Jess Loudon are stupidly talented and shine. Their performances are gold and they bring the audience with them, which is vital in a setting like Pop-Up.

David Fane as King Edward and George is delightful and Harry Bradly as the Duke of Buckingham is perfectly cast.

Special mention has to go to Theo David, his performance as Henry is a real highlight of the play.

This incredible theatre gets no subsidy from any Government agency and relies on ticket sales, so buy tickets here – at only $20 for a groundling pass, it is the best 2 and a half hours of theatre money can buy.

5 stars.