GREEN - Shakespeare’s “Richard III” is one of his most
popular history plays, which is not to say the easiest to
decipher. The plethora of characters representing both sides
of the contentious civil War of the Roses is hard to untangle,
especially at the beginning of the play. We soon discern that
Richard is an ambitious, angry man, determined to gain his
place in the world of recognition and power.
considered one of Shakespeare’s ugliest anti-heroes, Richard
feels cheated at birth. He is small, deformed and rejected by
his own mother. The problem with the American Players
Theatre’s rendition of this character is that he is not ugly
and deformed enough to match the lines that are assigned him.
James Ridge plays him as an almost comic figure whom we
pity but never commiserate with, even as he sinks toward
complete moral deterioration in a sequential bloodbath.
three-hour production taxes our patience. Perhaps a clearer
summary of the intricacies of the plot and an alignment of the
characters into the York-Lancaster alliances would have aided
us into entering into the story more fully, but we are left
with a morass of kings, queens, lords and dukes, and are never
quite sure where our sympathies should be directed.
be fair, there are some well-executed scenes and worthy
performances, though the memorable lines are not as plentiful
as is usually the case with Shakespeare. We are fascinated
with Tracy Michelle Arnold’s rendition of the angry widow
Margaret, we are moved by Nathan Hosner’s narrative about
the death of the young Edward and Richard, and we marvel at
the choreographic skill exhibited in the fighting scenes, but
overall we do not really care much for the fate of any of the
play begins with Richard’s soliloquy explaining his plan for
becoming king and his reasons for pursuing this path. We
immediately see him as psychopathic, and yet have problems
accepting his self-description.
His appearance does not fit the words he is mouthing.
To be believable, he has to be much uglier and more sinister
and we have to experience his moral deterioration as the story
noteworthy performances beyond those mentioned above include
those of Sarah Day as Richard’s rejecting mother, David
Daniel as the Duke of Birmingham and Travis A. Knight as
Richmond. Colleen Madden’s reaction to her losses of husband
and children seemed somewhat shallow.
that this play was directed by the ultimate Shakespearian
actor, James DeVita, it was disappointing as a portrayal of
the ultimate evil character. It was well staged, but lacked
depth and credibility.
other plays comprise the repertory, including two other
Shakespeare plays,”Troilus and Cressida,” and “Twelfth
Night,” plus two other classics,”The Admirable
Crichton,”and “The Royal Family,” in the outdoor venue.
Acting Shakespeare,” “Shakespeare’s Will,”
“Heroes”and “Skylight” are being performed
in the Touchstone Theater, the new indoor space. A
great variety of offerings, a delightful experience for those
who love live theater, the plays continue through Oct. 21.
608-588-2361 for times and tickets or visit their website at www.americanplayers.org