a rousing if indulgent rag, a harmless bit of pop-political satire, intermittently funny, with lots of nervous energy and some well spoken monologues.
Richard II | Review
Andrew Fuhrmann | Daily Review
22 Sep, 2014
Heading up the hill into Northcote, MKA’s Richard II is on at the Northcote Town Hall, part of the venue’s SpeakEasy program.
This take on Shakespeare’s epic history play is a rousing if indulgent rag, a harmless bit of pop-political satire, intermittently funny, with lots of nervous energy and some well spoken monologues. But, like a one-panel political cartoon, there’s not a whole lot to it beyond the initial set up.
It starts with the royal cousins as children. Olivia Monticciolo is Henry; Mark Wilson is Richard. Henry wants to be a union lawyer and work for the common good. Richard is sure he’ll be king. He enjoys explaining to Henry that she can never be king because she’s a girl.
Wilson’s Richard II is Kevin Rudd, and Monticciolo’s Henry Bolingbrooke is Julia Gillard.
Did Rudd behave as though he had a God-given right to rule? Was Gillard treated like a traitor for challenging? Did Rudd stand amazed to be deposed by a woman? Maybe, maybe, but haven’t these hyperbolic comparisons already been exhaustively mined? The opinion pages were full of high-tragic analogies all through the long-running Labor Party leadership battle, and I’m not sure there’s much that ‘s new in Wilson’s spoof.
At one point he lets the artifice fall, and, as himself, or someone like himself, he tries to articulate for us his frustration with the current political system. It’s an unsettled interlude, perhaps improvised, and it suggests a desire to move past personality politics into something more substantial, something revolutionary. It was the only time I really leaned forward.
That interlude, however, leads into a lightning journey through the rest of the Henriad, culminating the crowning of Tony Abbott as Henry V — which is nuts. But, still, if you’re more interested in hollow men than hollow crowns, and nostalgic for the drama of polls, leaks, numbers and betrayals, Wilson and Monticciolo might be for you. 3 STARS