Richard II: The Final Day In Stratford-Upon-Avon

Yesterday saw the final day of the Stratford-upon-Avon run of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Richard II. The play starring David Tennant and directed by Gregory Doran had been in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from the 10th October and the period had included the RSC's first ever live broadcast of one of their productions into cinemas.

The excitement for the closing two shows was quite palpable, but at the same time there was a little sadness that it was all drawing to a close so soon. It hasn't been a very long run and the transfer to London has meant a three week break while the complex stage design is relocated to the Barbican in London. The Warwickshire town was obviously much busier from much earlier on in the day and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre shop and foyer was rammed as friends met up with friends and people scrambled to buy from the range of Richard II merchandise. Crowds were building up outside too. An acquaintance who took a peek during the matinee interval informed us that the stage door barrier was already three deep. Fans who had already viewed the production assured first-timers how much they would love the show. Seasoned RSC and theatre supporters rubbed shoulders with people for whom this was their first foray into live Shakespeare. It has been a production that has drawn its audience widely.

This has been a critically acclaimed run, with many praising the simple yet effective set, the use of the theatre's depth, the live singers and musicians and, without a doubt, the consistently high quality performances by the whole company. The younger members of the cast have left us with a host of new names and faces to follow with the hope that they too will go on to great things. For David Tennant it has been a triumphant return to Stratford. The bold decision to wear extensions to realise Richard's ethereal, androgynous appearance may have got the gossip columns chattering but it certainly focused attention on something very special that was happening on that stage. The success of the live broadcast across the UK underscored that to the tune of the £1 million that was generated at the sold out cinema box offices. The production hit the right notes in so many ways and Gregory Doran has hit the ground running in his first full season as RSC Artistic Director.

The two final shows ran through smoothly and following both performances, David Tennant made an earnest appeal for donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee to support relief work following the horrific events in the Phillippines. Cast members manned buckets at the exit doors. The final curtain call was a mixture of elation and emotion. The audience sprang to their feet as the final spotlight faded, and the beaming, relieved, tired and happy faces of the whole cast, led by David Tennant said it all. A large bunch of apricot and lemon coloured roses landed with a thud at David's feet; he scooped them up and without hesitation presented them to Jane Lapotaire, who has made a triumphant return to the RSC following a lengthy serious illness. David thanked the audience and expressed how delighted they had all been with the successful run...and then they were gone, with just the final flourish by the trumpeteers to see the audience on their way.

A member of the theatre staff informed us that work would start the next day to strip out the Richard II set and to start to install the complex mechanics for Wendy And Peter Pan.

In three weeks time, the company will take to the stage of the Barbican in London. Until then we will simply have to be bereft of Richard, Bolingbroke, Old Gaunt, York, Northumberland, Harry Percy, Aumerle et al. In the meantime there are encore screenings of the live broadcast to fill the void.

Richard II transfers to the Barbican in London from 9th December till 25th January 2014. The run is currently sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be made available on the day of each performance directly from the Barbican Box Office. Otherwise phone 020 7638 8891 for returns.