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28 October 2014

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Temptation, gallantry and power in Edward III

Edward III
Drama in the RSC's Edward III
High praise indeed comes forth for Edward III, a 'new' Shakespeare play, performed for the first time in full by the RSC, at the Swan Theatre.

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Review by site user Ben Whitehouse

Shakespeare says in Twelfth Night "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them". Edward III is one of the latter, only recently being welcomed into the Shakespearean canon.

The evidence for Shakespeare's authorship is vague; some aspects of the sonnets are used to make the link from Shakespeare to the play.

The writer of the play was fascinated by temptation in its various forms, gallantry and the nature of power. Edward, a cool, dry and powerful David Rintoul is tested time and again but is never found wanting.

 Edward III
A great performance in Edward III
The first part of the play sees the King trying to force the married Countess of Salisbury, the angelically beautiful and wily virtued Caroline Faber, into his clutches.

I held my breath through most of the exchanges and found myself rooting for both to win.

I wanted the King to be consumed by his passion but I wanted the Countess to remain virtue itself.

The second part of the play deals with the relationship between the King and his son the Black Prince, who was thoughtfully well played by Jamie Glover in the battlefields of France.

I must mention the marvellous Wayne Carter who plays King Edward's secretary with comic gravitas and the man can definitely sing!

The play was due to be directed by Peter Hall's son Edward, who walked out after disagreements behind the scenes.

Stand-in Anthony Clark has done a good job with only one or two ideas coming across as underdeveloped. For instance the oddly comic skull abacus and the 1940's refugees.

This aside, it is a play that is given the space and time to work on the audience.

Themes aren't rammed forward and characterisations aren't over-played. The important point is made clearly: Edward III more than deserves to be part of a classical repertoire.

Edward III runs from now until September 14 in The Swan.

Our reviewers are all volunteers who receive no payment.

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