The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1115  Monday, 20 June 2005

From:           Grant Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 19 Jun 2005 17:44:57 -0700
Subject: 16.1103 Oregon Shakespeare Festival's RICHARD III
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1103 Oregon Shakespeare Festival's RICHARD III

I took 16 students down to Ashland this past week and saw six of the
plays in production.  All were quite good, better overall, I thought,
than last year.  Newcomb was very athletic and gave an effective
performance, but the idea of using metal crutches to enhance the
arachnid imagery is not exactly novel.  They were also used, for
example, by Anthony Sher in the RSC production of 1984.  The OSF
production of R3 followed up on their productions of the H6 plays last
year, in which Newcomb also played.  This production was clearly more

The other two Shakespeare plays we saw were TN and LLL, both of which
enthralled my students, even though it rained hard at times during the
performance of LLL.  It amazed me that the actors could project their
words so clearly under the circumstances.  Jeff Cummings as Berowne
always came through, and Catherine Lynn Davis projected a very
intelligent and sensible Princess of France who enjoys the flirting but
strikes a reasonable balance between love and duty at the end.  Special
mention needs to be made of Ray Porter, who portrayed a disheveled and
realistic Costard, which seemed to contrast especially well with the
pretentiousness of the other characters.

Besides the Shakespeare plays, we also saw Marlowe's Faustus, Ma
Rainey's Black Bottom, and Room Service.  I asked my students to name
the production they liked the most, and every play was mentioned at
least once.  However, the production that got mentioned most was TN.
There were many good touches, but a particular highlight was the scene
in which Malvolio reads the letter and then tries to smile. Kenneth
Albers had been perfectly somber, and so his efforts to smile appeared
to be total contortions, which elicited the greatest howls of laughter
throughout the audience of the entire week.  Albers is a bit heavy set,
and I had always pictured this Puritan as a bit gaunt. Nonetheless,
Albers projected the thematic contrast to Sir Toby's revelry as well as
any Malvolio I can remember.  There were notably strong performances by
other members of this cast (e.g., Robin Goodrin Nordli as Olivia, Linda
Morris as Viola, Christopher Duvall as Aguecheek), but I simply don't
have time to go into detail.

Grant Smith
Eastern Washington University
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