This fall, director Ron Jenkins was tasked with directing the Shakespeare play, Richard III. After having the privilege of watching previous plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, there was an incredible standard set by The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth; yet with veterans such as Amy Burk and Haysam Kadri, I was almost guaranteed an awe-inspiring performance.
Playing from September 21st – October 8th, I quickly realized this was a must see for any theatre or literature lover. The immense sincerity of the characters, the entrancing set, and near perfect fixation on the themes presented in this play all worked cohesively to amaze . Jenkins managed to turn one of Shakespeare’s great history pieces into a heart wrenching tragedy that had the audience completely absorbed from the first monologue to the curtain call. Traditionally, histories are recounts of the rise and falls of monarchical families, made to please whichever monarch was in power at the time. Shakespeare’s true passion lay in the tragedies and comedies in which his vivid – and sometimes gory – imagination was set free. Richard III, though technically a history, was shown on the Vertigo stage in an empathetic light in which the audience was able to fully appreciate each character they were shown.
Kadri took every monologue and turned it into an intimate look into the deceptive and violent thoughts that were plaguing his character’s mind. By turning to the viewers, facing full front, and breaking the fourth wall (a conceptual barrier that separates the audience from the performance) he managed to spark a connection that would not have otherwise been made. Speaking to other audience members after the play, I heard them say that they felt bad but not for the characters I was expecting. Rather than feeling sorry for the estranged Queen Margaret or the widowed Lady Anne, these theatre goers felt for the villain: Richard. Not only did this solidify Jenkins wonderful vision, but worked perfectly to provide the public with a fresh, vibrant take on a historical Shakespearian piece.
Another character that blew me away and was an unexpected surprise was the character of Queen Margaret. As I previously mentioned, she is the estranged soothsayer that sent a chill down my spine each time she took the stage. Natasha Girgis brought this creepy and ominous character to life and was comparable to the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Her presence was a welcome addition to any scene and amazed me with how, even when she wasn’t speaking, she brought an eerie feeling that filled the theatre.
The chemistry between each cast member and the effective use of tech made for an entertaining and enlightening show. From the visuals during the battle to the blocking of Richard’s imminent death, each detail was thought out so perfectly by director Ron Jenkins.
This rendition of Richard III was nothing short of brilliant and is a definite win for The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth.