Review: Richard II – MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

Review: Richard II – MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

by Martin Brisland.

Tangle Theatre Company’s aim is to perform classic plays in new and surprising ways in their distinctive Southern African township theatre style.

In association with MAST Mayflower Studios, Tangle have devised a radical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Richard the Second. The original Zimbabwean score is impressive, the set of 14 step ladders of different heights is effectively used and the standard of acting is faultless. 

A nation is in turmoil. Three first cousins – Richard, Aumerle and Henry – battle for the kingship but is it “the hollow crown”? Written in 1595 the play’s themes are universal and very relevant to our own times. Shakespeare’s play explores the politics of power, family alliances and bitter rivalries. 

It contains a number of well known Shakespeare quotes such as:

“This blessed plot, this realm, this England.”

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”

Richard was the son of military hero Edward ‘the Black Prince’ (as he wore black armour), heir to the long-lived Edward III but he predeceased his father. Richard was born on 6 January 1367, on Twelfth Night, at the abbey of St Andre at Bordeaux and was called ‘Richard of Bordeaux’.  His older sibling, Edward, had died in childhood. Richard was therefore the Black Prince’s only heir. He became a boy king at 10 years old in 1377 following the death of his grandfather Edward III. The powerful John of Gaunt was the brother of Richard’s late father. In 1599 Gaunt’s son Henry Bolingbroke deposed Richard and declared himself Henry IV.

Richard was a troubled king and many historians today think he may have had a personality disorder. 

The play has been adapted for five highly talented actors, with three of them playing multiple characters across the show. Richard is portrayed by Daniel Rock, in his professional stage debut. What a superb performance he gives!

With an original score of Zimbabwean music and song, Tangle’s new multicultural production offers a fresh take on this state of the nation play. Tangle have also produced a superb Richard the Second Discovery Pack for anyone keen to delve deeper into the play. It can be downloaded from their website

Richard the Second runs until Saturday 22 October, including a matinee performance, before starting a regional tour until the end of November, including Theatre Royal Winchester on November 3. Tickets from or 02380 711811.

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: