Thursday, October 25, 2012

Have No Fear, Richard's Here!

I have to make a confession. Prior to seeing Facing Page Production’s No Fear Shakespeare’s Richard III, I had no prior knowledge to this Shakespeare play. Having never read nor seen a production of Richard III, I was fearful if I would get it. Fortunately, I was granted a remarkable opportunity to actually UNDERSTAND a Shakespeare production!
Erik Carter Photography
Despite the additional three words to the title, the story is still the same. The jealous and ambitious Richard, an ugly hunchback, is on a mission to gain control of the thrown. He’s ruthless and manipulative and will do whatever possible in order to fulfill his objective. In No Fear Shakespeare’s Richard III, the text is aided by being “translated” into modern dialogue. Though prose and poetry may at times be sacrificed, we are allowed to showcase the story. And thankfully we had a pretty remarkable ensemble as our storytellers. Luke Forbes as the title character was tremendous, using his physicality and depth to his advantage. There is a possibility that you want to cheer for Forbes’ Richard despite his dastardly doings. Equally as strong was Frank De Julio’s Buckingham. De Julio and Forbes played quite well off of one another, acting as quite a tandem. Give them another Shakespeare play and I’m sure they could tackle it. Perhaps No Fear Shakepeare’s Othello? Though his time on stage may have been limited, Zak Kamin as Clarence was superb, not wasting a single moment. He earned sympathy for his untimely death by the hands of Tyrrel and Catesby, played effortlessly by Ryan McCurdy and Jeffrey Omura respectively. Despite some weaker links in the cast, with some unorthodox casting, overall the ensemble carried the work with great ease lead by director Shannon Fillion. Fillion’s simple yet effective direction was what the play needed. Additionally, her transitions were fluid and kept the action moving, something which could have been problematic having only two possible entrances.
Erik Carter Photography
Anshuman Bhatia, who served as both scenic and lighting designer, created a space that served the play quite well. Using a different vantage point to create the room and not having the table, the focal piece of the set, not sit on the same plane was ingenious. This allowed Fillion to stage outside the restraints of a normal three wall set. The multiple hanging light bulb chandeliers that were sporadically placed were a clever touch. One of the best lighting and scenic moments came during Clarence’s death scene, which was played on top of the table with some stark lighting. The only thing that could have been brightened, literally, was the front light during some of the darker lit asides and soliloquies. The image was moody, but a tad difficult to see. The soundscape that Kortney Barber created was ominous and eerie, allowing for some spectacular moments. One of the highlights of the evening was Richard’s dream sequence that was portrayed as a surveillance video featuring zombies of his victims. Shaun Fillion’s video combined with Barber’s sound design worked dramatically to create a haunting moment.
What Facing Page Productions did was wonderful. They make understanding Shakespeare accessible. They assembled a team that created an evening of theater that has the ability to make the audience want to go back and read the original. If you’re looking for the original text, you may be disappointed, but know you’ll still see a tremendous production. Expect big things from this company in the future.