Tonights Agenda: Shakespeare’s Richard III at Post5 Theater
Over the years, Post5 Theater has become one of my favorite places to see Shakespeare. Its productions always feel fresh and inventive. Its actors always deliver enthusiastic and engaging performances. When we learned that Richard III was showing at Post5 Theater, I knew we would not be disappointed. As usual, it delivered.
Richard III has recently received a resurgence of celebrity with the 2012 discovery of his corpse at the site of what was previously the Greyfriars Priory Church in England. It has been a fascinating discovery that validated Richard’s death in his thirties, the abnormal curvature of the spine, as well as a skull missing its posterior, either from a halberg or sword which penetrated all the way through the brain-how cool is that? The discovery also reveals new information about his actual lineage.
Because I like history, I reviewed the known history of of Richard III along with the synopsis of the play before seeing it. I encourage attendees who are not familiar with the history of Richard III or the plot of the play, to do likewise since it lends some valuable insight into Shakespeare’s interpretation of Richard III. Additionally, this man who died in Battle at 32 years of age, had an extraordinary life that should be examined.
Matt Smith’s beguiling performance as a devilish, coy, and mirthful Richard III demonstrates the reason why this play continues to draw people centuries after it was written. Smith’s conversations with the audience with those intense and diabolical eyes pulls you right into his character’s story. Shakespeare’s Richard III was one nasty guy.
One of my favorite scenes in the play was when Richard is visited by the ghosts of his victims. The productions rendering of this scene is both eerie and magical.
Richard III is an interesting character and his story is a life lesson of hope that, in the end, good will prevail over evil. Let us hope our current presidential election will have the same ending.
I realize it may not sound very environmentally friendly, but it is annoying that the theater no longer provides paper programs. One now has to go online to retrieve it. Ya, I know I sound like a big baby, but it is harder to read a program on an i-phone than a handout. Also, it is cumbersome and rude to use one’s i-phone during performances if one wants to refer to the program, which I frequently do with a paper program. Furthermore, when I tried to retrieve the program on Post5’s website after seeing this performance, neither myself nor my husband could find it. While I understand having the program online is more cost effective and environmentally friendly, it is not more convenient.
My mom went to see the Lion King and I asked her how she liked it.
Amazing costumes she said
Amazing costumes. I am sure they were. I don’t go to theater for the costumes. It is like going to a restaurant for the cutlery. I go for the language and the acting, and if both are good you don’t need amazing costumes.
Richard III is a case in point. At the Post 5 it is relatively spare, a black and white set and costumes of the fascist 20’s. But it is the actors and language that make the play.
Richard III tells the rise and fall of the last King of England to die in battle as he manipulates and kills his way to the top. Mostly based on real events (15th century, not 21st century, not that there is any difference, oh no, no modern parallels here), Richard was a murderous, manipulating, sociopathic bastard. It is said that no one considers themselves to be the bad guy in their personal narrative. Richard tells us at the beginning that he is the villain of the story.
The acting is excellent and the strongest performance yet. Shakespeare, as I think I have mentioned, has to be spoken in a way to allow modern ears to hear it. It is a skill many do not master, but not at Post 5. They did a great job.
It is also one of the weirdest plays I have seen. The comedic relief comes from two thugs sent to kill Richards sister. There is a long (and excellent) back and forth between Richard and Elizabeth where he argues that even though he killed her husband and two sons, he should wed her daughter as it will be to her advantage. So odd.
With timeless themes, great language, and superb acting who needs amazing costumes.