In college, we had to see a Shakespeare play and compare its take to the text. There was a glam rock production of Richard III in town that featured David Bowie and puppets. It was strange to say the least; after intermission, Richard entered the stage as king dressed in full Iggy Pop gear. It was the only time I’d seen a production of the play until last night. It was an interesting take, comparing Richard’s use of a persona to that of a rock star.
Mark Ryance’s production of Richard III may not have David Bowie, but it has to be one of the coolest theater production I’ve ever seen. In case you don’t know, this production is as authentically Elizabethan as possible- men play women, candles adorn the set, the actors dress on stage before the performance, there are no mics, and an Elizabethan style music troupe performs atop the set. It was a fun experience to watch the actors dress, and it was interesting to see it done as it might have been done back in the day (you know, WAY back in the day). And I won’t even mention the curtain call…the curtain call was perhaps my favorite part of the whole approach, and I don’t want to spoil it!
While I love the detail that went into this production, I think the authenticity was the least interesting of Rylance’s choices in the production–which is saying something! His Richard was not the dastardly mastermind but a mad and perhaps accidental genius. He would cackle mid-soliloquy, prance about like a fool, and molest poor Anne’s fingers in a rather horrific fashion. While I always read the play as a terrible man (but slightly sympathetic, he has, after all had a tough lot in life) who goes insane as the weight of his greedy deeds mounts, Rylance’s portrayal shows a man who is already slightly insane who goes off the deep end entirely once he gains power. Many of the scenes that are often chilling were actually funny in Rylance’s hands. He reminded me of Albert Finney in Scrooge. (I doubt anyone will get that reference, I think my mom and I are the only people in the world who have seen and adore that film, but it’s a fantastic performance.) He was funny, and because of that, you like him, even though he’s a homicidal maniac. I’m not sure it was my favorite interpretation, I’d have to see more actual productions (read: non glam rock themed), but it was really enjoyable, and I’m even more excited to see their production of Twelfe Night next week.
With my discussion of Shakespeare aside, it’s been busy as usual. Finals week is coming up, so things have been quiet as I’m too busy studying and preparing papers and trying not to run screaming through the streets to do anything interesting. It was nice to go home for Thanksgiving and see my family. I enjoyed taking a break from the busy city to eat a lot of food and check out the country craft fairs. I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit; once I finish finals I think I will be in full holiday cheer mode!