Theater Review: 'Richard III'

By: 
By Ben Miles
JILL CAREY MARTIN as Queen Margaret and Brian Kojac as Richard III.

Thought to be penned in the year 1593 by William Shakespeare, “Richard III” – a historical play depicting King Richard III’s odious ascension to the throne – is the second longest play in the Shakespearean canon (Hamlet is the lengthiest).

Nevertheless, and even though director Brian Kojac (who also portrays the delightfully maniacal Richard III) has added a prologue taken from Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 3, which according to the director’s note, “will help you better understand the relationships and events referred to throughout...” The pace of this production clips along in a crisp two-act, two-hour presentation.

Enriched by sterling performances, including Jill Carey Martin as Queen Margaret; Samantha Green as Lady Anne; Laura Lynn Orlow as Queen Elizabeth; and Elizabeth Schembre as the Duchess Of York.

This distaff quartet is visceral in their shared contempt for the wretched Richard III. Ms. Carey Martin’s hatred of this emotional mutant is palpable, while Ms. Green’s spittle that she aims toward the face of Richard III suggest the nausea she is made to feel by Richard’s amorous intonations and suggestions – yuck!

While Ms. Orlow’s Queen Elizabeth is brought to visible teardrops by Richard III’s emotional entrapment of her. Ms. Schembre’s contained emotions vividly bursts forth in an unexpected moment with Richard III.

With sinister machinations and battle scenes to die for (pun intended) this “Richard III” is rousing, foreboding and, at times, edge-of-your-seat entertaining. Sturdy support offered by the two-dozen players in this incarnation of “Richard III” is masterfully choreographed and thoroughly accomplished. Also deserving of praise are Donny Vanhorn as Richard III’s henchman Brackenbury; Scotty Keister as Lord Hastings; and Ryan Sepulveda and Leonard Joseph Dunham as Murders 1 and 2, respectively.

With an adaptable black box scenic design (by Mr. Kojac); meticulous costume designs, which evoke the sensibilities of the 15th century (by Celestina Hudson) – as well as spot on lighting and sound design and operation (by Brian Newell and Trevor Clayton, respectively) – this “Richard III” is not only a grand theatrical experience but also a warning against tyrannical, opportunistic leadership. Who’ll document and dramatize the reign of would-be King Donald J. Trump I?

“Richard III” continues at the Maverick Theater through August 17.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sunday performances are at 6 p.m.

The Maverick Theater is located at 110 East Walnut Avenue, Fullerton, CA. For reservations call (714) 526-7070. For online ticketing visit mavericktheater.com.

ben@beachcomber.news

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