RSC at war

By IH 19/04 Updated: 19/04 11:01

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Buy photos » Jonjo O’Neill in rehearsals for Richard III. Photo RSC/Hugo Glendinning

THE RSC is at war.

Productions of Richard III and King John are now underway in the Swan Theatre in Stratford as part of a season of three plays under the umbrella title Nations at War - part of teh World Shakespeare Festival - which explore the struggle for absolute power and the right to lead a nation.

The third play A Soldier in Every Son – The Rise of the Aztecs, a co-production with Compaňía Nacional de Teatro de México, opens in June. It is directly inspired by Shakespeare’s History plays and charts the story and foundation of the Aztec nation.

Roxana Silbert directs power-hungry Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as he plots, manipulates and murders his way to the throne in Shakespeare’s brilliant expose of this infamous monarch, running until September 15.

Jonjo O’Neill takes the title role.

Silbert explained: "I was looking for a young Richard. Jonjo is exactly the same age as the historical Richard when he died. Jonjo has showmanship, Richard’s character has a great sense of playfulness, but there is also a profound, damaged darkness in him.

"I believe Jonjo is a brilliant actor who can combine that sense of child-like playfulness with a very dark core, someone able to play status but who also feels comfortable engaging openly with the audience. I think Jonjo brings all of those qualities to the part."

Alongside him are Pippa Nixon who returns to the company to play Lady Anne, with Paola Dionisotti and Siobhan Redmond returning to play Margaret and Elizabeth.

Swedish born Maria Aberg directs her first Shakespeare play with one of the Bard's rarely performed History plays, King John, also running until September 15.

Aberg - whose previous work for the RSC includes directing Roy Williams’ The Days of Significance - has made some substantial edits to this version of the play, and has changed the gender of two of the characters: the Bastard and Pandulph are played by women - Pippa Nixon plays The Bastard and Paola Dionisotti plays Pandulph.

Aberg said: "There is something quite glorious about seeing a woman play the sort of heroic warrior that you don’t otherwise see played by women in Shakespeare. It was partly because it served the story well and partly it was my own personal curiosity to see a woman play that kind of part."

Alex Waldmann makes his RSC debut in the title role.

Visit www.rsc.org for tickets and further details.

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