Monday, 9 November 2009

Ian as Berowne

Joe Cocks Studios Collection @ Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

When The Essential Shakespeare Live: The Royal Shakespeare Company in Performance audio CD, produced by the British Library, was released in 2005 it was a source of dismay to me. Why? Because Ian Richardson, a star for the Company for 15 years, was practically ignored in it.

However, a further compilation, unsurprisingly called The Essential Shakespeare Live Encore has just been released and includes a recording of Ian as Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost.

Here's what actor Nickolas Grace had to say in the book about Ian's performance in the role:-

"It was one of the greatest things I've ever seen because that was the real vocal pyrotechnics. He did the whole thing at about a hundred miles an hour. It was like an express train - he did it really rapidly but you could hear every single word and he got a clap after the first speech. It was staggering."

And Garry O'Connor in his review in Plays and Players in October 1973:-

"His Berowne is the essence of boyish exuberance. His resources of optimistic goodwill appear endless. Some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, Mr Richardson was born with the iambic pentameter. He warbles, he flutes, he moans, he juggles, he transposes, stands on his head, lies on his back: whatever he may be doing, the lines ring out with clarity and precision."

Needless to say, I've ordered my copy!


  1. I saw this performance and it was indeed memorable, not just for the words but also for the inspired comic biz, such as wearily buttoning up his cassock-like costume from neck to ankle. Who else could get a laugh from the way he did up buttons?

  2. Alas, if only the performance had been filmed rather than just the audio recording made. I believe Ian was an absolute master of comic invention.

    However, I am grateful that at least I'll hear him as Berowne and hope that people like you, Linda, can fill in some kind of commentary on the visual effects.

  3. I saw that amazing performance probably a dozen times in the course of one summer. I still have the notes I made at the time about the comic business Linda G talks about. Everyone was wonderful, but, of course, Ian R was the star of the show. Everything, but everything, he did was inventive and hilarious. As Nick Grace says, the speed at which he delivered some of the lines was incredible. I especially remember the 'Light seeking light doth light of light beguile' speech. The production was gorgeous to look at, too. And the end was very moving. Tony Church as Don Armado used to bring tears to my eyes. Oh, and David Suchet! He was sooo cute.

    I too was disappointed in the first compilation. Glad they've finally come to their senses.

  4. Alas, it's only the one speech - but three minutes of pure joy!
    Thank you, Bela for sharing your memories of the production.