COLORADO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Director Tina Packer may not make this a “glorious summer” with her “Richard III,” but the attendance thereof will definitely make it a richer one.
Nigel Gore is a good Richard. He could have been a great one. His crookbacked regent is constantly on the move. That in itself is not a bad thing, but with a bit of a pause now and again one might get a chance to see the gears whirring in this miscreant’s head. Gore’s Richard is well described in physiological terms. However … the only time he made this reviewer cringe was in the humiliation of Buckingham (Gary Alan Wright), in which he describes his (Richard’s) not being “in the vein.” Gore is at his best when he lets his cruel inner child come out in moments such as the one in which he swings his legs playfully over the battlements while verbally spewing venom.
The star of this production is Mare Trevathan in the role of Queen Elizabeth. The passionate reading given by this actor is brilliant! She is regal and her rage is riveting! Trevathan’s fiery passion in her big scene with Gore’s Richard late in the play is indelible! Her performance makes one dream of seeing her in a staging of “The Trojan Women.”
In the role of the Duke of Clarence Steven Weitz reads the verse like a champ. One cannot stress this too much! In this reviewer’s not so humble opinion Weitz’s delivery of Shakespeare’s verse is the pinnacle of the evening. Clear, crisp and passionately spoken, Weitz’s delivery is spellbinding.
The scene in which the Duke of Clarence is murdered is one of the best in this production. Although it is a brief scene the two actors, who play Clarence’s murderers, Benaiah Anderson and Peter Giffin, perform brilliantly. These two actors make one feel and know more about their characters’ humanity than many of those in the grander roles. Their performances make one wish that there were a Henry Award for Best Minor Role or Walk On.
As Queen Margaret, diminutive Bella Merlin comes off more as an irritated fairy than a raging royal wraith.
The scenic design for Richard III done by Andrea Bechert is a work of art. It fills the stage beautifully and speaks volumes about the play to come even before the show begins.
Hugh Hanson’s costuming for the women is eye-popping and truly magnificent. One wonders at that of some of the children though. One of their little khaki costumes with a flat khaki hat made the young man appear to be a sort of Elizabethan boy scout.
It was unfortunate that a huge bank of lights had been rendered inoperable by inclement weather early in the run. As a result one was unable to experience the impact of the lighting design of award-winning lighting designer, Shannon McKinney.
This show may not be a perfect Richard III but it’s well worth your ducats. You’ll have to see it late in the week now. Due to an unfortunate oversight Richard has not been scheduled to play on Hump Day. (Sorry!)