I think Benedict Cumberbatch is actually God. There is nothing the man cannot do: from a whiz-bang slap-up Sherlock to a slithering Richard III who out-Voldemorts Voldemort, the man is a total genius. I’ve never actually seen his Hamlet but I watched the latest in the Hollow Crown series on the beeb last night and I was totally gripped. At first I thought he was playing it a bit over the top, but he sustained the level of evil and upped it at key moments to a character that could rival his alter ego’s nemesis, Moriarty.
I had wondered whether they might, in the light of recent discoveries, update it a little: put in a hint or two that Richard wasn’t as bad as he’s painted – but as OH pointed out, the text doesn’t leave you too much scope for that. It’s a shame he’s been given this undeserved reputation by a playwright who was merely sucking up to the Tudors: even so I thought they might add a little reference at the end to him being buried in the choir of the old church, but the film ended with a shot of the battlefield, pulling back and back so that in the end it looked like a grotesque Breughel:
Sophie Okonedo is also brilliant as Margaret of Anjou, a performance sustained through several plays.
Richard III is far more interesting than the other history plays as it’s basically a psychological drama, the battle coming only at the very end and providing a satisfactory catharsis. There’s not too much catharsis around at the moment, so let’s make the most of it…