Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Re-Reading Richard III: A slight correction

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Two weeks, two corrections. I'm on a roll.

In this week's issue I describe Richard III as being chopped and reassembled like a puzzle. That's an overstatement I'd like to correct. The text has been chopped, but mostly appears in its correct order.

Last week I re-read Richard on my iPhone. I love the tech. I even walked into Theatre Memphis skimming through it. And I walked out with the distinct impression that, in addition to being cut, it had been shuffled. My mistake, although I'm claiming some assistance.

The show's powerfully staged opening scene is, in fact, culled from the previous history 3Henry VI. That's not an unprecedented thing to do but when strongest scene in your show isn't from your show, you're in trouble. And completely skipping the peaceful lull between war and intrigue—the "weak piping time of peace"— I lost the thread. In this Goth world, Richard seemed no more deformed than anybody else. What on Earth was his problem?

This morning, while waiting to shoot Local Color at WKNO I bumped into one of the cast members. It prompted me to pull up the Richard III text again. Flipping through I realized that, while certain liberties had been taken with the text, they were perhaps not as extreme as they seemed when Greg Boller—who should have been a very good Richard—was forced to act some of his more intimate scenes while functioning as a follow spot operator.

I've admired director Bo List's work for years because he's an artist who swings for the fence every time he comes up to bat. The occasional spectacular trike out is to be expected. In this case, it wasn't quite as bad as described, although it's still pretty spectacular.

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