I’ve been doing quite a bit of arts reviewing lately – poetry, film, theatre – and while I love being an arts consumer, being a critic can be more time consuming than you’d think. If I’m reviewing something that is based on a literary work (a novel, play, poetry collection – whatever) then there’s no question that reading the book is an essential part of being an informed critic. Even reviewing a film requires serious research. I want to be well-informed and relatively knowledgeable about the director’s back catalogue and other films in the genre. Context, people! Nothing is created in a vacuum. (Physicists please don’t take me to task – I’m just being flippant.)
All this has meant that my creative work has been on the back-burner while the Adelaide Festival and Fringe are in town. It’s not called Mad March for nothing (and the madness actually starts in February but now I just sound pedantic.) Anyway, I submitted my last film review a week ago and breathed a sigh of relief. The only shows on my horizon were for pleasure rather than business.
Then my editor emailed me to say her reviewer for Richard III couldn’t do it – did I want the gig? Did I want this gig? Ha! This is Richard III performed by Schaubühne Berlin under the artistic direction of Thomas Ostermeier – one of the most famous theatre companies in the world.
So out came my old copy of the play and I settled myself down to reread it. There is so much to love about Shakespeare. Aside from revelling in the gorgeous language and his insight into human nature, I just love the feeling it arouses in me – the acute pleasure of holding an old copy in my hands and reading not just Shakespeare’s lines but all the previous owners’ underlinings and marginalia.
So last night Andrew and I wandered around Adelaide’s Victoria Square Night Market before taking our seats in Her Majesty’s Theatre for Schaubühne Berlin’s production of Richard III. If you want to read my review for InDaily you can find it here. If you can’t be arsed, suffice it to say that the show was brilliant. Even Andrew, who’s not a die-hard Shakespeare fan and had not read the play, was transfixed. Lars Eidinger’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s most malevolent hero was unsettlingly captivating. While the original text was streamlined for this production, the cuts were artfully done and none of the power or meaning was lost.
This is one aspect of why arts reviewing is such a wonderful occupation – being given the opportunity to witness and appreciate the world’s finest artists interpret and reinvigorate the classics is a gift. And thank you to whichever deity is responsible for books and libraries that I already owned a copy of Richard III. No fudging or frantic book-search required. The Year of No New Books continues with another classic text dusted off for one more day in the sun.
(If you are in Adelaide, this production of Richard III is playing until March 9 and I highly recommend you get your tickets now!)