LEICESTER dug up Bosworth-battered Richard III from beneath a car park. Now, avenging York, rejected as his rightful last resting place, has stuck him back in a car park for the summer.

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre reviewers had the longest wait for this production, and it was the longest to bed in too, with its first performance on June 29 turned into a dress rehearsal as the move north from London rehearsals to a York tech week demanded the most from director Lindsay Posner, doubling up in the chair for Romeo And Juliet too.

Ticket holders were asked to pick a later date, and they will be grateful, for the best of the four Rose Theatre shows is this one: the History Play about the Plantagenet “local lad” made bad by Shakespeare, bowing to pressure from the Tudor court propagandists.

Whether Shakespeare’s play is fake news, post-truth, or Donald Trump’s alternative truth, you must play the play for what it is: a portrait of a mendacious Machiavellian tyrant that resonates through the corridors of power down the centuries.

York Press:

Charlyne Francis and Edward Sayer as Clarence's murderers in Shakespeare's Rose Theatre's Richard III. Picture: Anthony Robling

Posner has chosen to set his Richard III in a Britain of the near-future – an intolerant post-Brexit long, long winter of discontent – and the gods were with him for Monday’s press night: the day when another local lad, David Davis, and Boris “Opportunity Knocks” Johnson resigned from the Government, and the weather at Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre was suitably colder and darker too.

The cast emerges as one – save for you-know-who – and stands silently, cold-eyed, surveying the audience until dancing manically to Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1982 chart topper Come On Eileen, as if they will never dance again. Suddenly, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Dyfan Dwyfor) emerges on the balcony above, and they scarper.

You could read too much into Kevin Rowland’s lyrics (“Our mothers cried”; “These people ‘round here wear beat down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces”), but Richard’s thoughts, I confess, verge on dirty, or at least dastardly. Posner immediately establishes a boldness, a vigour, a jolting humour as black as Richard’s heart.

Dwyfor’s splenetic Richard has a hump, a limp left arm, his left leg permanently bent in a caliper; he is wiry, fashionably bearded, he wears rook’s black; he is cynically sharp-witted, and he uses the audience as his sounding board like a campaigning politician.

At his first mention of “York”, they cheer, and throughout, he tells them through direct address exactly what he will do next or passes comment on another newly despatched enemy or woman he has abused or exploited. “I like you lads,” he says to two of his hitmen, but he could be saying it to the home crowd too.

York Press:

Into the blue: Dyfan Dwyfor's Richard III in the immediate aftermath of being crowned 

Posner makes a more exciting use of the Rose Theatre space than he does in Romeo And Juliet, victims dumped unceremoniously through the trapdoors, for example.

The modern setting is wittily evoked with politicians racing from meeting to meeting with coffees-to-go and briefcases with death-knell contents; Clarence’s killers dance to a hand-held speaker, recalling Natural Born Killers.

More eerily, prisoners are in orange overalls, as if at the Guantanamo detention camp and when shot, they are hooded, as if for an ISIS execution. Lord Hastings (Robert Gwilym) poses for official photographs, as insincere as Davis and Barnier’s Brexit handshakes. Richard’s Bishops for his sudden conversion to faith to claim the throne immediately expose themselves as fakes once his trick has worked.

The Thick Of It’s Armando Iannucci would surely love Posner’s Richard III, with its savage political satire, but it is deadly serious too, especially in its depiction of women, so blighted by Richard’s strangling grasp, whether Julie Legrand’s mad Margaret; Alexandra Dowling’s trapped Lady Anne or Julia Swift’s Duchess of York.

There can be no “my kingdom for a horse” in this near-future, of course, but this is a kingdom for a hearse, and when all the women gather to sing the Negro spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, that haunting image will linger.

And how beautifully redemptive and hopeful are the closing words of the newly crowned Henry VII as voiced by Edward Sayer: a soothing Sayer indeed.

Richard III, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Tower Street, York, until September 1. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Other productions at the Rose Theatre include Macbeth, Misummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet. Here are The Press reviews to help you decide: