So what about Martin Freeman then? Is he short, is he handsome, is he very evil as Richard III?
Yes, Martin Freeman is rather short, his eyes are of a very particular shade of deep blue (not an invention of fanfic authors then), and he makes a vicious Richard.
The play is best appreciated from a short distance, because being Freeman short, his eyes deep blue and his Richard III vicious, you really want to appreciate the skilled body language. You know a good Richard III when he extracts a smirk of evilness from you therefore stage seats are recommended. I love these contemporary stages with seats next to the actors. In the case of Richard III at Trafalgar Studios you are actually behind the actors, with the additional advantage that the seats themselves are rather comfortable, while those in the stalls are unbearably cramped (and I am even shorter than Martin Freeman so imagine if you are a big person), not to mention you have direct access to the tiny bar.
I wasn’t looking forward to this “winter of discontent” setting, because I grew up during the Cold War so its use as a historical background always makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I have to say it works, especially in terms of witnessing a dark age peaking and beginning to come to an end, but always knowing that an evil heart is a thing of all times.
Also Freeman was alarmingly good but in my opinion the best out there was Jo Stone-Fewings (Buckingham).
As for the blood, which was supposed to splash the first four rows of the stalls and the first row of the stage seats where I was (black t-shirts were provided), nothing of the sort really happened. Fights were less intense than expected because Freeman was recovering from a backache (which makes sense, you do remember the exhumed skeleton). Anyway, upon leaving I intentionally stepped on some blood and this was my shoe afterwards. Unfortunately the stain was cancelled the next day by a few hours of vigorous walking around London.
Stage door was nice. Freeman was too tired to sign autograph but I did not want one anyway. He waved goodnight and left in a posh car. Another actor left with a small foldable bike and we walked home in our deliberately stained shoes.