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Sam Sugarman - interview

Reinterpreting one of Shakespeare's most famous works, Sedos theatre company are bringing Richard III to their stage at Bridewell Theatre. Contemporary politics are fused with the same hunger for power that has plagued those who desire control throughout history: a story of ambition and corruption with a modern twist.

Starring as Richard, Sam Sugarman is leading the piece and has told us a bit more about what to expect.


Can you tell us what to expect from the show and how it is a fresh retelling of Richard III?

Although we retain all of the beautiful Shakespearean language with all its iconic quotes "Now is the winter of our discontent" "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" etc. we have transformed the setting into modern-day Westminster, with all the requisite backstabbing, plotting and lust for power and influence that goes on behind those doors. In addition to this, we are combining live and recorded elements to the drama, so actors interact with the digital 24-hour news cycle that is today's politics.

How much prior knowledge did you have about Shakespeare and this story in particular? 

I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, and I've loved all of his plays since studying them at school. I've also been lucky enough to perform in a few, playing "Bottom" in A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Iago" in Othello, and "Buckingham" in Richard III. I also wrote about Shakespeare for my Masters Dissertation - a Comparative Study of Shakespeare and Sondheim, looking at how both writers use rhythm and language to tell stories.

Richard III is probably my favourite play of all time. I love how much fun Richard is to watch; how he plays with words the same way he manipulates and deceives all those around him. He takes the audience along for the ride, even during his inevitable downfall.  

What preparations have you made for the role and what inspiration have you drawn upon for your interpretation?

Aside from a LOT of line learning - I'd say my inspirations are characters like Frank Underwood from House of Cards, Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, and a few actual politicians who fit the mould - namely Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, and Priti Patel.

Which personality traits or complexities do you anticipate being most difficult to embody, and how will you overcome this?

I think it's important to show Richard as a human being, with frailties, insecurities and a soul. No villain is interesting to me if they are nothing but cackling and deviant. 

Why is being part of Sedos important to you?

This is my fifth production with Sedos, and I love working with them. It's great that Sedos has a home at the Bridewell, a prestigious central London venue, a stone's throw from the West End. I've always been impressed by the quality of their shows - particularly recent productions of Titanic and Musical of Musicals the Musical. But most importantly, it's about the joy of performing and the community that you create with each cast you belong to. Big parts aren't always the be-all and end-all (although I'm obviously chuffed with this one!). I played a minor ensemble role in Carrie: The Musical, and had potentially the most enjoyable experience I've had so far with Sedos, simply because the cast and the production team just had so much fun making the show!


Many thanks to Sam for giving us this extra insight, and best of luck with taking on your role!

Get your tickets for Richard III at Bridewell Theatre here:

Additional thanks to Pippa Kyle for coordinating this interview.


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