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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: April ::
Review *R3*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 251.  Thursday, 22 April 1993.
 
From:           Blair Kelly III <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Apr 93 05:57:15 EDT
Subject:        Review: Richard III by Georgetown Classical Theatre
 
Associated with Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the
Georgetown Classical Theatre recently finished a production run of
Richard III.  I saw the last performance, and was lucky to get a seat.
The production had been sold out for several days (unusual for a
college production), but fortunately for me someone did not claim their
reserved ticket.  I very much enjoyed this performance.  This was a
modern dress, minimalist set production of Richard III.  And unlike so
many modern dress productions that strap on swords for the fight scenes
at the end, this production was consistent throughout - the battle of
Bosworth Field was hard fought with rifles with bayonets, and Richard
was killed by gunfire.  And the executions of Rivers and Grey was done
with bullets in the back of their heads (mercifully for us *after* the
lights had gone out).
 
Richard was excellently played by Tony Braithwaite who (according to
the program notes) was the 1989 National Shakespeare Competition
winner.  His Richard was pale-faced with black slick-backed hair, and a
scar on his right cheek, plus a slight hump and club-foot limp.  And
the way he used his walking stick - just excellent - now stomping it in
order to command, now waving it about or using it to point at someone.
Wendy Fellows did a fine job as Queen Margaret in a wheelchair.  I
enjoyed the look of horror and shock on Lady Anne's face (Francesca
Ciaravino) when dressed in a wedding gown and dragged by Richard enters
to King Edward's "Why, so; now have I done a good day's work";
evidently they had just come from the church and this Anne was already
having misgivings about her marriage!  I loved the look of terror on
the face of Catesby (Yeal Lempert) every time Richard shouted at her.
This Catesby was obviously terrified of her master!  And I liked the
decision that the Duchess of York (Kelli Clement) had the same
club-foot limp as Richard, at least partially explaining his
deformity.
 
Rather than use a corpse for King Henry, Anne was scattering his ashes
when she was interrupted by Richard.  I wasn't sure I liked this
change, until later in the play when King Richard is handed an envelope
and he says "And Anne my wife hath bid this world good night" and he
casually upends the envelope and dumps her ashes out!
 
Young Edward is met by his uncles with the sound of a jumbo-jet in the
background.  Geographically inaccurate given the size of England, I
know, but it did keep with the modern spirit of the play.  Young
Richard of York jumped on Richard Gloucester's back (to the horror of
the assembled group), and then interestingly enough he did it again
when his ghost is saying "Let us be lead within thy bosom, Richard, and
weigh thee down to ruin, shame, and death".  (Richard had fallen asleep
at his conference table.)  A nice touch.  I just now realized that the
ghosts didn't make any comments to Richmond.  Interesting that I didn't
miss it.
 
I don't know who makes such decisions (I assume the director) but I
applaud the idea of having two of the non-speaking characters mentioned
in the text actually played on the stage.  Lady Jane Shore (Lisa
Ignacio) helps Hastings (Zachary Glaser) finish dressing when they are
interrupted in the early hours of the morning.  And then she is dragged
on stage, bound and gagged, when Richard accuses Hastings of protecting
witchcraft.
 
The other non-speaking character was Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth
Shaplin).  She didn't say a word in the entire play, but was around
when other women were present.  She was at the other end of the stage
when Richard begins to ask her mother how to woo the girl.  She leaves
the stage, then at the end of the scene comes back, slowly walks up to
Richard, spits in his face, and then runs away.  (Remember that Anne
also spits at Richard.)
 
I am always saddened when friends tell me they like Shakespearean
theater, but only go to "name" companies or productions with some
famous actor or actress in the lead.  Many times college and amateur
companies put on excellent productions.  This production invites
comparison with Ian McKellen's recent Richard III - and comes off very
favorably in the comparison.
 

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