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So last night I went to see Richard II at The Donmar Warehouse and guess who I met…? That’s right, only my favourite actor ever - Eddie Redmayne!

I had my little fangirl moment about that last night, so tonight I’m going to briefly review the play. Because I miss writing play reviews. A level drama seems so far away…

As a student who is currently reading English Lit, I had a vague idea of what Richard II was about due to studying Henry IV part 1. I knew that Bolingbroke stole the crown off his cousin Richard II who was a weak and fragile king with relative ease but that was about it. 

We walked in to see the wonderful Mr Redmayne sat stock still onstage. He must have held that position for at least half an hour while the audience filed into the theatre - this impressed me from the off. The staging was similarly impressive. The aged wooden arches and balcony were reminiscent of a church; simple yet effective.

As much as I love Shakespeare, I knew that this was one of his most difficult plays. Written almost entirely in verse, it doesn’t have a huge amount of action in it, instead relying on words which would have impressed the original audience. These days however, people tend to view it as rather dull. However, in his final production as artistic director of The Donmar Warehouse, Michael Grandage manages to breathe life into the rather static text. This is mainly due to the pace of the piece. No stage time was wasted, with one scene beginning as the previous left, leaving the audience without time to think or get distracted between events.

Lighting was used cleverly throughout the piece which helped to create interest in the action happening on the stage. One particularly inspired moment for me was when Richard was in his cell at Pomfret. Small beams of light lay across the stage, blurred by grey smoke. Incredibly atmospheric to say the least.  

But of course, that would have been nothing without the strength of the cast. Eddie Redmayne was excellent at bringing believability and sympathy to Richard II - a character who can often be portrayed as a simpering, vain fool who deserves what he gets. In his final soliloquy, Redmayne showed a new sense of self-awareness in Richard, making his subsequent death even more poignant. 

Andrew Buchan was good as Bolingbroke, creating a character who was much more than just a scheming heavy. We saw him as a man who felt wrong and initially only meant to win back what was rightfully his. In this production we felt like it was Richard’s own self doubt in his carefully created mask of rule that allowed Bolingbroke to take the crown. 

But for me, the best performance of the night was Ron Cook’s as the Duke of York. He showed perfectly the divided loyalties that his family had forced him into, dithering between his two nephews.

All in all, despite Richard II definitely being one of Shakespeare’s ‘bro shows’, as my friend Calynn would put it, I thoroughly enjoyed this production. In fact, I may well try and get some more returns to this show in January. 

Maybe I’ll even meet Eddie again…

As to my evening - I had a great time with two wonderful friends. It was also lovely to meet the other brave souls waiting to meet Eddie as well - stage door friends FTW! 


What an adventure yesterday was! If you’d told me yesterday morning that I would’ve been meeting my favourite actor (and perfect man) that evening I wouldn’t have believed you but thanks to some cheeky work from my best friend, we were off to see Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse, despite it being sold out from now until February! 

The play itself was very well done, I had never read Richard II before as I tend to neglect Shakespeare’s histories in favour of his comedies and tragedies, so it was a little difficult to grasp at first. However the basic gist is the King Richard was being a bit of a dick (haha, no pun intended) so his cousin Henry (whom he’d banished) decided to gather an army and usurp his throne. Which he does and by the end you feel pretty sorry for old Richy, parted from his crown, his wife and then stabbed to death in a prison.

Eddie Redmayne even does a little bit of singing in the show, nice little sample for what we all have to look forward to in Les Mis (personally cannot WAIT). Me and Melissa were complete douches and decided to run to Marks and Spencer in the interval because we were hungry and theatre food is SO expensive, but when we got back the play had started again so we had to watch the second half from the standing area in the circle. However this worked out quite nicely as a lot of the action in this act was on the balcony, which we couldn’t see very well from our seats in the corner of the stalls.

Onto the STAGE DOOR, which was the best part by far. So quite a few people were waiting out the front for Eddie, I’d say around 15 people all together, but he came down and only took pictures with this girl and guy who’d been cheeky and stood INSIDE the foyer whilst the rest of us were waiting out in the cold. Then he ran away again and they TROTTED out all happy and we all hated them ha.

However, having previously stalked Karen Gillan at this theatre I knew that there was in fact another exit that Eddie was likely to come out of. So Melissa and I made our way round the back, followed by 4 other girls who we actually became good friends with! Eddie’s minder popped her head out of the door and informed him that we were there but to our relief and joy he came out and was pretty much the loveliest thing alive. 

I was first to speak (how this happened, I do not know as I am usually exceptionally shy around famous actors that I’m infatuated with), just a “Hello” followed by a request to have a picture, to which he obliged with an “Of course you can!” 

Then he spotted my friends Percy Pig sweets which she’d been chomping away on whilst we waited. She was like “Do you want one?” and he was like, “You know what, I could actually really go for one”. Somehow he ended up with the whole bag and was eating the sweets whilst having his photo taken - I don’t think my camera captured these gems as it ran out of battery! Thank the Lord for the iPhone. 

But he was hilarious, going “Oh dear I’ve got my mouth full in this picture, how unattractive”, my friend replied “No it’s sexy” to which he looked embarrassed and incredulous haha. 

Anyway, long story short (and this has been a very long story), he was the nicest actor I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a good few this year), so talkative and put everyone totally at ease. He was everything I imagined, charming and a wonderful actor. </fangirl gushing>

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Redmayne puts in a remarkable performance as a fragile, ethereal Richard. Sitting in state as if in a trace, Richard’s self-absorption is here partly conceived as spiritual reverie. Suitably for Shakespeare’s most poetic and self-dramatising king, Redmayne looks like he’s playing a part from the off.

All satin robes, studied poise and small affectations, he loves the pomp of royalty more than the business of ruling – and is more suited to it.

When this ineffectual monarch is stripped of his crown, he embraces the role of tragic martyr hero almost more than that of king, even pushing Bolingbroke, the man who takes his crown, onto the throne. When speaking the verse Redmayne often goes for a naturalistic delivery but still seems wonderfully caught up in his own poetry and romanticism, and is full of half smiles to the end. He is less self-pitying and more riveting.

Julie Carpenter’s review of Eddie in Richard II

Quote IconMichael has had such an astounding 10 years. I saw all his plays here so I did not want to let the side down. I wouldn’t have had the balls but Michael had such faith in me to play the part.
Eddie Redmayne paying tribute to Michael Grandage after opening night of his last show at the Donmar
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Richard II – review

Michael Grandage ends his dazzling tenure at the Donmar with a Richard II that has many virtues: clarity, speed, superb set and sound design.

But the big question is whether Eddie Redmayne, currently hot in movies but inexperienced in Shakespeare, is ready for the title role. My feeling is that he has the temperament but not yet the technique to play the king.

It is clear from the opening that Redmayne’s Richard is a man encased in ritual: he sits silently on the throne in an incense-filled chamber as the audience assembles, loftily accepts courtly obeisance and clutches a sceptre as proof of his divine right.

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