The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0805 Monday, 3 May 1999.
From: W. L. Godshalk <
Date: Sunday, 02 May 1999 21:27:19 -0400
Subject: CSF Richard III
Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Richard III
Directed by Jasson Minadakis, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's
production of Richard III opened on April 15, with Dan Kenney in the
title role. With long, greasy hair, dressed in biker black leather,
chains, and spikes, with a hump on his left shoulder, his left arm
immobilized, a knee brace of monumental proportions, and an almost
totally white left eye, Richard hangs his battle axe on the front, left
pillar as he says, "Our bruised arms [are] hung up for monuments"
(1.1.6), to be taken down and used only during the final battle. After
his wooing of Anne in the second scene, and his reassessment of his
abilities as a wooer-"Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a
glass,/That I may see my shadow as I pass" (1.2.262-3), Richard appears
in the third scene with a crew cut and a pair of red sun glasses. His
mode is comic and ironic.
In this production, Richard's entente with Buckingham (2.2.146ff.)
includes Hastings (Khris Lewin) as a smiling Mafia godfather.
Buckingham (Nicholas Rose) is a smooth middle-management executive, who
recoils aghast when Richard later indicates what they will do with
Hastings: "Chop off his head!" (3.1.193). From the beginning, Buckingham
comes across as unable to play hard ball with Richard.
In 3.7, Richard enters with his two bishops in a comic procession, the
two bishops (Ratcliffe and Catesby in disguise) mimicking the Richard
shuffle and revealing themselves after the departure of the mayor and
Buckingham. Spider-like, crawling and scrabbling, Richard ascends a
flight of stairs (center stage) to the small upper stage (Chris Reeder's
design), where he finally pulls himself into the throne before asking
Buckingham to give him his hand (4.2.3). The stairs are back lighted in
red. In 4.4, the comic vice of a king runs out of steam. One audience
member told me that she thought Dan Kenney had lost his energy, not
realizing that the script indicates that Richard himself has lost it.
After each of Richard's commissioned murders, the ghost of the murdered
character enters with a spear and a scull which are placed at various
positions around the stage. In 5.3, the ghosts reclaim their sculls and
the spears, and, in the final scene, it is they and not Richmond who
kill Richard. He is finally overwhelmed by his own evil history.
Marni Penning plays Queen Elizabeth in an outstanding performance. I
don't think I realized before seeing this production how important
Elizabeth is in the script.
Ten actors perform the entire play (with some cutting), and they double
roles with astounding rapidity. Matthew Humphreys is Brakenbury,
Stanley, and Edward, Prince of Wales. Deb Heinig is a wonderful Queen
Margaret, and doubles as Anne, second murder, etc. Joseph Verciglio
plays a series of roles from Dorset to Richmond. Anne Vega is an
excellent Duchess of York (who, like Richard, has a deformed left eye),
etc. And Borden Hallowes plays Catesby and Edward IV, while Chris
Reeder, the scenic designer, plays Clarence and Ratcliffe.
The play runs through May 23. I recommend it for anyone who can make it
to Cincinnati for the show. For more information, call CSF at
513-381-2273 (or 381-2288).