Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Richard III"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


"Richard III"

by William Shakespeare

Set and Lighting Designed by James Mullligan
Costumes Designed by Roy Desmond

Richard III (Duke of Gloucester)..............Brenton A. Popolizio
King Edward IV/Duke of Clarence...............Christopher C. Libby
Edward, Prince of Wales...........................Nora Allen-Wiles
Richard, Duke of York.................................Daniel Dwyer
Edward Plantagenet..............................Gabrielle Corriera
Henry, Earl of Richmond................................Ryan P. Roy
Duke of Buckingham.............................Taylor David Hansen
Earl of Rivers......................................Erica A. Meyer
Lord Hastings.........................................Scott Shulte
Lord Stanley........................................Melissa Ehlers
Sir Richard Ratliffe..............................Pamel DiPasquale
Sir William Catesby...................................Jason Lanoue
Sir James Tyrell.....................................Rebecca Meyer
Lady Anne Neville/Margaret, widow of Henry VI...Maryanne DiPasquale
Elizabeth, Edward IV's Queen............................Rachel Hart
Duchess of York..................................Christina Bontempo
Lady Margaret Plantagenet...............................Alison Swap
Attendants....................Stephan Jean Baptiste, Dave Rodrigues


Monday night after their first week-end of performances outdoors in Medford's Powderhouse Park, vandals burned all their sets and costumes and props. That Saturday The City Shakespeare company prepared to do their "Richard III" barefoot, in black dance-togs, with a sword, a chair, a crown, a tiara, two knives, and three improvised black capes. And an hour before curtain-time the temperatures plummetted to 55 degrees and God Himself seemed to be providing a backdrop --- wind-whipped clouds better suited to "King Lear" out of which every passing jet-plane sounded like an oncoming cloudburst.

To the young cast's credit, concentration and energy never flagged despite the difficulties, voices loud enough to carry over pine-whispers in the open are never fell hoarse. It was ragged --- certainly not what anyone had intended --- but by final bows a perfectly round full moon in an almost cloudless sky tried to smile down through summer leaves.

The efort to be heard and seen outdoors over the negative-rake of the curving hill often looked like over-acting, since it robbed everyone of subtleties. Certainly Brenton A. Popolizio took Richard's vow to be a villain to heart in a production bent on making certain the groundlings got the message. More spite than guile was called for, and he gave forth with vigor.

Nevertheless the cast, particularly several strong women's roles, stood their ground and gave as good as they got. In a long slugging match Rachel Hart, newly widowed by the death of Edward IV, traded brief insult for counter-insult with Popolizio that fell like repeated broadsword blows each from each. Christina Bontempo, as the mother of both villainous Richard and his victim the Duke of Clarence, had her own set of wailings and railings over her calamitous children.

Maryanne DiPasquale filled not one but two huge women's roles. Early on she was a pale, mesmerized Lady Anne, woed over the corpse of her dead husband by his murderer. Later she played old Queen Margaret as part witch, stopping the impetuous charges of enemies at the very tip of her pointed index-finger, and calling down calamity and ruin with her rages.

It may be that inside an air-conditioned auditorium with great acoustics and their sets and costumes back, this swift, broad, loud, highly physical production would look an incongruous travesty to any stern critic. Some of the sixty or so attendees that Saturday voted with their feet when they found there was no intermission. The many who stayed, however, heard Shakespeare's words perhaps a little closer to the way they were uttered origially. They certainly had to applaud a young company of actors who, with nothing but those words and their own bodies, brought Richard, his toadies and his victims and his outraged enemies brawlingly to life despite every obstacle. Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark)

"Richard III" (till 26 July)
CITY SHAKESPEARE
Powder House Park, College Avenue, SOMERVILLE
1(617)625-7598

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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