BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
TITAN THEATRE COMPANY
Richard III has always been popular. It was the first of Shakespeare’s plays performed in America, in Charleston in 1737. It was also the first one to play in Manhattan, in 1749.
When Shakespeare wrote this play (around 1591) the events were as distant as WWI is now to us. Richard was already legendary as a humpbacked villain – partly because the man who dethroned him was Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather and partly because his scoliosis was viewed as a sign of spiritual deformity. Shakespeare exaggerated the deformity, recreating Richard as a beguiling, bitter genius and retelling the story as a captivating mishmash of politics, dark comedy and tragedy.
The backstory is the War of the Roses, a 100 year squabble between the houses of York and Lancaster, two branches of England’s oldest royal clan. As the play begins, the York family is celebrating victory and Richard’s brother is finally the undisputed king. Then things get messy.
So it’s basically the rise and fall of a limping lord with a rotten soul. Yet it’s also a portrait of a country that gets the ruler it deserves, since almost everyone is willing to be led astray, collaborate or acquiesce as he merrily savages his way to the crown. They’re all compromised. Of course they regret it later - even Richard has bad dreams. In Shakespeare’s view, at the end of the day we all feel pangs of conscience.
Looking back to the 15th century, we can be thankful America’s game of thrones is not so bloody. Yet power and conscience are still at odds and Shakespeare still reflects our troubled world.
"Adapted and directed by Edward Morgan, the play has a modern setting (and) a bleak and dark atmosphere. . . The bloodthirsty deformed villain is played with ferocious skill by Lloyd Mulvey. He masterfully injects irony and humor as he marches inexorably toward his rivals’ deaths and his own undoing. … The most powerful and terrifying gesture involves the red hash marks he paints across the wall. . . . An eminently talented and professional cast . . . absolutely riveting.
– Queens Courier
Set & Lights: Jason Fassl
Costumes: Leah Smith
Sound: Edward Morgan