Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

American Players Theatre: Richard III

As we often do, we made our trip to American Players Theatre a "double-header," and also took in the evening performance of Shakespeare's "Richard III," on Sunday evening the 9th.

We found it very interesting that, although this production was directed by James DeVita, it was about as different from APT's last production of "Richard III" (in which DeVita played Richard) as could reasonably be. Whereas the DeVita Richard was a low-keyed, confiding, and occasionally actually sympathetic Richard, in this production James Ridge is a ranting, laughing, all-out villain and seems to have a good time chewing the scenery, something we the audience enjoyed as well. The broadness of the characterization and Richard's glee in his plots almost make the first half of the show a black comedy. The second half, after Richard has come to the throne, is decidedly darker, and builds up to a big climax when Richard's murdered victims, having already troubled his dreams, appear as spectres to his fevered vision on Bosworth Field.

Georgie noted that this Richard in particular is a "crisis politician,"—manufacturing crises, and then stepping in to take charge, ruling through fear as when he stampedes the people of London into demanding he take the crown—an approach to governance still too much in use today.

Ridge was very well supported by his co-conspirator David Daniel as Buckingham, and by the formidable cast of women: Sarah Day as Cecily, the Dowager Duchess of York; Tracy Michelle Arnold as Margaret of Anjou, widow of Henry VI; Melissa Graves as Anne Neville, Richard's tortured Queen; and Colleen Madden as Elizabeth Woodville, the soon-to-be widowed wife of Richard's brother, King Edward IV. (It seemed to me that the women's roles were somehow larger in this production than the past, for some reason--.) Adding to the sinister aspects of the play was Eric Parks as Ratcliff, Richard's murdering henchman, coolly noting down his assignments as an uncredited DeVita does the actual dirty work.

The production's handsome Edwardian-era costumes are shown off well by the barren, rocky stage, which is transformed by props and pieces into a throne room, a prison, or a battlefield.

This was an interesting and engaging addition to our collection of Richards, and we were very glad to have seen it.

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Tags: american players, shakepeare, theatre
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