Some of Shropshire’s finest actors have been cast and rehearsals will begin this month for the centre-piece production at this year’s Much Wenlock Festival.
Directed by Ken Allden who co-directed the highly-acclaimed production of All’s Well That Ends Well in 2006, Shropshire Drama Company (SDC) will present King Richard lll by William Shakespeare.
The story is of the crookback Richard, Duke of Gloucester who plots and murders his way to the top job by eliminating the competition in the shape of his many relatives and rivals. Described by Sir Ian McKellen as “exciting, sexy, funny and violent”, the play is a study of villainy and Richard’s malice, wrath, envy, dissimulation and wit can seen as Shakespeare’s portrait of what would we would now call psychopathic behaviour: “A model that stretches ahead to Hitler and Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe as well as to the many tyrants of the workplace so familiar to many people”, observes Ken Allden.
Richard of Gloucester will be played by Peter Beechey, well-known to local audiences for his accomplished portrayals of Shakespeare leads. Peter spent a number of years with the National Youth Theatre in London performing at the Shaw Theatre and The Roundhouse before moving back to Shropshire. He has featured on radio and television and is one of the longest-serving members of SDC. His most recent performances for the Company include Hotspur in Henry IV Part One, Richard Lionheart in The Lion In Winter, The Fool in King Lear, Henry Drummond in the highly acclaimed production of Inherit The Wind and Lord Lafew in All’s Well That Ends Well.
Ken Allden continues: “This will be a spectacular, gala production in a magnificent setting and we are very fortunate to have such a high calibre cast to maintain the reputation of Shropshire Drama Company in bringing this fantastic piece of theatre to the Much Wenlock Festival in our anniversary year. The play is a ripping yarn as well as providing a fascinating insight into the terrors of life under a murderous, tyrannical regime.”
Tickets for King Richard III at Holy Trinity Church Green (Much Wenlock) from 09 to 14 June will be available through the Much Wenlock Festival website at www.muchwenlockfestival.co.uk from spring 2008.
Picture: King Richard III poster (designed by Source Design, Shrewsbury)