Hong Kong Cultural Centre | December 2016
Thomas Ostermeier’s theatrical career began with the radical ‘in-yer-face’ style, staging works by Mark Ravenhill and Sarah Kane with violent intimacy. His recent work with the Schaubühne has gravitated towards more classical texts such as Ibsen and Shakespeare and older patrons are no longer in danger of fainting during performances. It would be all too easy to accuse him (as he once accused older directors) of becoming irrelevant, and to judge Richard III as less radical in the context of his earlier work. I think this would be an unfair interpretation, especially given Ostermeier’s evident self-awareness about the contradictions within institutionalised theatre. His Richard III is politically charged and makes a strong point without making crass direct references to current events. This is as relevant an interpretation of the play as I have seen; perhaps not as viscerally shocking as we might expect, but shocking in the way we are seduced by it.