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This is Richard III as you have never seen it before. This debut production from new, young, locally- based company Beyond The Horizon sets Shakespeare’s drama in a nightmarish sort of Mad Max meets a bad day at Glasto set, strewn with rubbish and old tents. There are no crowns, no armour, no mediaeval robes. If this sounds like some gimmicky traducing of Shakespeare, to make it ‘modern’, it isn’t. It is completely faithful to the text; the setting only serving to emphasise the sordid madness of the English court at the end of the murderous mayhem that was the Wars of the Roses. It fizzes with imaginative energy from the get-go. What can I say? The innovative approach leaves this critic gasping with admiration; each murder, for instance, is portrayed in a way you would not expect, but each time its freshness and aptness gives a new light to a play you think you know. It does of course, require some high-level acting skill to carry all this off; especially in its ground-breaking disregard for gender in the casting; which works perfectly – in particular Matilda Dickinson as the ebulliently amoral Buckingham. There is no shortage of acting talent anywhere in the production; but to hold it together, Richard has to be good – has to be very good. Adam Lloyd-James is. Macabre; wheedling; sly; amused at himself; murderously cold and calculating; raging like Hitler in the bunker; he encompasses all aspects of the role like a fury. This is the kind of talent we have around these parts, people. Be happy. Surely this town must increasingly start to be seen world- wide as a centre of theatrical excellence, if this is the level that can be achieved. Stunning.

*****

                                                                                         John Christopher Wood