Richard 3 at Grays Beach

“Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer …” a famous phrase, and one that rarely gets a laugh, but it surely did as it opened the Oddsocks Company’s rumbumptious production of Richard III on Thursday (27 August) evening.

Richard himself paused, literally atop the stage roof, and looked heavenwards — seeking a “glorious summer” — as the wind blew his hair and rain threatened.

Around 10 hardy souls braved the strong breeze at Grays Beach Riverside Park to see Shakespeare’s classic played raucous-style, full of boos and cheers, laughs and ad-libs, and a nose which strangely seemed to change in size.

The trees rustled loud enough to threaten to overpower the six actors’ voices, but laughter echoed around the park at Richard’s machinations to woo the widow of the man he murdered and steal the throne.

The audience, encouraged to bring their own chairs by Thurrock Council’s Horticulture team which organised the event, were kept warm by the usual sexual innuendo, spectacular cod-pieces and over-played evil as the white rose of York took on the red rose of Lancaster in a titanic battle for the crown of England.

In true Shakespearean-style, historical fact has little to do with the play itself, but those who defied the weather received a great evening’s entertainment.

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