Review: Richard III (Wayward Productions & Chicago Fusion Theatre)

| May 28, 2013
Hilary Williams and Carlo Lorenzo Garcia star as Anne and Richard in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)        
       
Richard III 

Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia
The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru June 29  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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Shakespeare and….leather jackets

     

Gavin Robinson, Maximillian Otto Lapine and Brian Hurst star in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)

    
Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre presents
    
Richard III

Review by Anuja Vaidya

There is much to be said about Shakespeare’s genius and the fact that his work has the ability to endure. Centuries have gone by since his plays were first performed, and yet they captivate and fascinate us to this day. It is the universality underlying his work that results in his plays still being read, performed and adapted. This universality allows for some truly innovative adaptations of his work. While Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre‘s Richard III falls into this category, it doesn’t quite succeed in making the play itself accessible to the audience.

Natalie DiCristofano and Brittany Ellis in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)In this version of Richard III, a motorcycle gang – the Warlocks – are the players in a bloody game where absolute power is up for grabs, provided you are willing to get your hands dirty. The Warlocks appear to be close-knit, until the scheming of one of their own – namely Richard – shatters the world as they know it. Richard shrewdly and without a shred of guilt, does away with anyone who hinders his rise to power and who is of no use to him. But of course, meteoric rises are, more often than not, succeeded by dramatic fall. And Richard’s is a bloody one.

The production does an excellent job of immersing us in the world of the Warlocks. From the moment we enter the theater, we are witness to what seems to be a typical night at the Warlocks’ bar, which serves as the seat of their kingdom. Music is playing loudly, people are dancing and fights are breaking out. The cast does a great job of appearing to completely at home amidst the chaos of the bar. The costumes (by David Mitchell and Chrystle Morman) and set design (by Ashley Rose) are truly evocative of harsh world where you must learn to roll with the punches – quite literally.

The performances are high-energy and the cast does a wonderful job of picking up the mannerisms of the rowdy and churlish gang. Some performances, however, are more nuanced than others. I particularly enjoyed watching Carlos Lorenzo Garcia and Charlesanne Rabensburg. Garcia, who doubles as the director, brings an intensity and a sense of callousness to his performance that makes him an appropriately despicable Richard. Rabensburg gives perhaps the most nuanced performance of the night. As the mother, watching her son turn on all those close to him and unable to stop him, she gives a performance that is heart breaking.

Carlo Lorenzo Garcia and Jude Roche in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose) Carlo Lorenzo Garcia and Natalie DiCristofano in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)
Carlo Lorenzo Garcia in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose) Maximillian Otto Lapine and Sadie Rogers in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)

The biggest caveat to this show, however, is the decision to use the original Shakespearean dialogue. While the language is, of course, lovely and lyrical, it is jarring to the point of being distracting in this particular play setting. Also, to authenticate the set as a bar, there is music playing through the show. This certainly adds to the immersive nature of the set, but nonetheless is distracting. It’s hard to follow the dialogue, and because words are missed, then, the plot became confusing. (It was only around halfway through the play that I fully understood the familial connections and their implications.)

This production is a perfect example of when a great script and innovative concept don’t necessarily work well together. The idea of having a motorcycle gang embody the rise and fall of power that Shakespeare writes about in so many of his plays seems to be a great fit. The cast and crew do a masterful job of giving the production the look and feel of a motorcycle gang and the world they inhabit. However, Shakespeare’s incomparable language loses its impact when used in this context.

   
Rating: ★★½
  
   

Richard III continues through June 29th at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm.  Tickets are $15-$20, and are available by phone (866-468-3401) or online through TicketWeb.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at TheDenTheatre.com.  (Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes, includes an intermission)

Hilary Williams and Carlo Lorenzo Garcia star in William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)

Photos by Ashley Rose


     

artists

cast

Carlo Lorenzo Garcia (Richard); Hilary Williams (Anne); Natalie DiCristofano (Queen Elizabeth); Brittany Ellis (Queen Margaret); Christopher Marcum (King Edward); Jude Roche (Buckingham); Charlesanne Rabensburg (Duchess of York); Spencer Smith (Hastings); Eric Louglin (Stanley); Gavin Robinson (Tyrell); Maximilliam Otto Lapine (Ratcliffe); Bill Daniels & Paul Krick (Prince Edward); Alex Farrington (Sergeant at Arms); Layne Manzer (Richmond); Sadie Rogers (Rivers); Gaby Labotka (Grey); Brian Hurst (Clarence); Ashley Rose (Mistress Shore)

behind the scenes

Carlos Lorenzo Garcia (director), Ashley Rose (scenic design, photos), David Mitchell, Chrystle Morman (costumes), Claire Sangster (lighting design), Alex Farrington (fight choreography) Megan See (stage manager)

William Shakespeare's "Richard III", presented by Wayward Productions and Chicago Fusion Theatre, directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. (Ashley Rose)

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Category: 2013 Reviews, Anuja Vaidya, Chicago Fusion Theatre, Den Theatre, The, Wayward Productions, William Shakespeare

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