However, that doesn’t make him any less lethal in his ruthless ascent to the throne as he dispatches human obstacles with chilling single-mindedness.

Jamie Lloyd’s swift production (which opens his second Trafalgar Transformed season) moves Shakespeare’s history play to the end of the 1970’s and Britain’s so called Winter of Discontent, cramming the action into a bunker-like office space where tea and sandwiches are served, the Duke of Clarence is drowned in a fish tank, and Lady Anne meets a drawn out death, throttled with a telephone cord as faulty lift doors clang open and shut but no one comes to save her.

Freeman (best known for his film and television career encompassing Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, The Office, Sherlock’s sidekick Watson and, most recently Lester, the slippery lead in Fargo) makes Richard a quietly poisonous ‘bunch backed toad’. He’s neat, precise, jutting jawed – a psychopath in a suit against whom Jo Stone-Fewings’ Buckingham ultimately rebels.

Maggie Steed’s increasingly distrait Queen Margaret seems to exert supernatural control over the power supply, and, with a running time of just two and half hours – and the risk of being spattered by blood from a severed artery – Lloyd’s interesting production, with its touches of humour, succeeds in its aim of making theatre accessible to those who might otherwise shy away from a long evening with the Bard.

When: Until September 27

Where: Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY

Tickets cost £15 – £52.50. Click here to book