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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Richard III (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Director: Robert Richmond. Lead: Drew Cortese.

The set design was marvelous and clever. Every victim --- and there are many --- is ceremoniously shoved down a hole in the floor tinted in eerie blue light. In the center of the stage "buried" under glass floor was a skeleton, evoking the bones excavated two years ago in a car park in Leicester that have been confirmed to belong to the hunchback king.

It's a long and hard play. I cannot complain the quality of the production, except the costume design. The supporting male cast all wore black and many had on trench coats. For the first half I couldn't distinguish Buckingham from Hastings.

Cortese was nowhere close to looking grotesque (rather the opposite) and made no attempt to be so. This decision possibly led to the director's interpretation of the scene between Richard of Gloster and Queen Elizabeth, in which she kissed him despite all the hate speech. Hmm... I am not fundamentally against this interpretation but it does not quite work here. Something was off. In fact both of Richard's women-wooing scenes (the other is with Lady Anne) that nearly bookend the play are not done to my satisfaction.

I know this is cliche, but what red-blooded woman can resist the urge to imagine exactly how the evil bad man seduces and turns a woman who hates him with sheer wit and charm and lies and pure daring?

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