Tuesday, August 27, 2013

...with the whole course of his detested life

Steve Capra’s review of
Richard III

by William Shakespeare
produced by The Drilling Company as part of its series Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
directed by Hamilton Clancy
August 2013

Space for off-off-Broadway theater is in short supply. The Drilling Company has been creative and rented some parking spaces from the Department of Transportation. They produce Shakespeare in the Parking Lot!

The company’s second production this summer has been Richard III, the last of Shakespeare’s plays recounting the events of The War of the Roses. His main source, as with all the history plays, was Raphael Holinshead’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, first published in 1577.

The play was first published in 1597 under the title The Tragedy of King Richard the Third. Containing , His treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence; the pittiefull murther of his innocent nephewes; his tyrannical usurpation: with the whole course of his detested life and most deserved death. As it hath beene lately Acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his servants.

It’s clear from his opening soliloquy that Richard is the ultimate bad boy:
…since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

This famous speech informs the entire extravagant, melodramatic play. Never mind being a villain – Richard proves to be a hellhound. The play gives any company a great opportunity to relish tragedy.

This is a very skilled company and the production is most successful. Hamilton Clancy, a marvelous director, keeps everything snappy and crisp. He takes every opportunity to show some humor, and that’s what makes the production memorable. Humor makes horror more horrible. In the title role, Allesandro Colla is as monstrous and oily as the playwright would like. He has a deft, masterful acting style (influenced by Al Pacino). And Sheri Graubert gives a terrific performance as Queen Margaret; she dominates the stage whenever she appears.

Speaking of Queen Margaret… she has a famous scene with Queen Elizabeth (King Edward’s wife, not QEI) and the Duchess of York in which the three ladies enjoy some commiserating. Before classical education faded, these three characters were known as the wailing women of Richard III.

The problem with producing Shakespeare in a parking lot is that the actors can be inaudible when they have their backs to us, as they often do in this outdoor theatre-in-the-round. And this play is a challenge for the audience in the best of circumstances.

We’re looking forward to sitting in the parking lot with this company next summer.