David Tennant’s Turn as Richard II to Broadcast in US Cinemas

Doctor Who star David Tennant is not only putting Ten’s brown trenchcoat this Fall, he’s also busy sporting a crown. The actor is currently starring in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard II in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon, playing the titular monarch who is overthrown by his cousin Boilingbroke. (If this story sounds familiar, it’s because this play was recently included in Great Performances mini-series The Hollow Crown, though in that instance Ben Whishaw was the one giving the famous speech about sitting on the ground and telling sad stories of the death of kings.)

Early reviews praised Tennant’s “mesmerizing” performance in the lead role, even those that were a bit more iffy on the show overall. Though the most often-remarked upon feature does seem to be the impressive mane of hair extensions Tennant is sporting – a long, flowing sort of hairdo that is definitely different than almost anything you’ve seen the actor with before. (It’s also apparently to help underscore the whole Christ-imagery thing in the play itself, but. Well. Wow. There’s a lot of it.)

Luckily, there’s an alternative available for those of us who don’t have tickets or can’t pop to Statford to see this production (and the amazing hair) for ourselves. The RSC has decided to screen the play in cinemas around the world and it’s probably coming very soon to a town near you. (DC locals see the end of this post for details.) 

This broadcast, while very similar to the popular NT Live program put on by Great Britain’s National Theatre, is actually the first instance of a live cinema broadcast from the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the new “Life From Stratford-upon-Avon” program. Well, live being relative in this instance. The November 13 performance was broadcast live in the UK, but encores screenings are occurring in cinemas around the world this winter.  (With more screenings of other plays to come, it would appear, as the live broadcast of Richard II was quite successfully financially

Watch Tennant talk about the role below:  

Interview with David Tennant | Winter 2013 | Royal Shakespeare Company

For DC area locals, Richard II will be screening at the Folger Shakespeare Library on December 2nd.  You can get tickets here. If you’re planning to attend – give us a shout, we’d love to say hi in person if you’ll be there! If you’re not a DC metro person, you can find out which theaters near you are showing Richard II at the RSC website.

Are you planning to see Tennant’s performance as Richard II? How do you think he will compare to Whishaw’s performance in The Hollow Crown?