And I do mean latest. Just about everyone dies. Walking into the theater, the only thing I knew about Richard III was that it is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Tyler Woods directs, bringing the production from 15th century Wars of the Roses to the 20th century, between World Wars I and II, likening the rise of Richard III to Hitler’s. Woods further modernizes Shakespeare’s classic with intermittent musical numbers (closing with an a cappella version of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android!). Altogether, it is well paced and produced, though I feel a few of the more surreal touches may be a bit ambitious for an otherwise fairly straightforward adaptation.
Catherine Pitt (Production Stage Manager and Properties Design) and Hanna Matter (Assistant Stage Manager) manage to effectively portray every scene with minimal equipment, everything moved on and off stage by cast members between scenes. Lloyd Cracknell (Costume Design) and Amy Kercher (Costume Assistant) seem to have a lot of fun dressing the cast in everything from flapper-esque dresses to military uniforms, and the detachable Nazi armbands are an interesting touch. Music Directors Suzanne Stanley and Andrew Rathgeber definitely make some bold choices, not least being the French number that dances King Edward IV out of this life (choreographed by Jessa Schinske and Sam Bearer).
Rex Daugherty stars as Richard III, and does a great job. Daugherty is in nearly every scene, and his huge energy and obvious love for the theatre goes a long way toward making Shakespeare more accessible to the audience. Kris Schinske is Queen Elizabeth, and gives you a sense of what the emotional toll must have been for a woman whose ambition was rivaled only by her love for her family. Cristela Carrizales plays several characters (Queen Margaret, Lord Mayor of London, etc.) well, but truly shines when she leads the cast in song. Rathgeber (as Duke of Buckingham) and Stanley (Lady Anne, Duke of York, etc.) both exhibit similar strengths. Jennifer Casteel plays the Duchess of York, and though she’s given relatively few lines, she makes them count. Oliver Archibald is awesome as James Tyrell. Bearer plays King Edward IV and gives you the sense that he really wants the best for his family and England. Jeremy Lister plays several characters, definitely having the most fun as Cardinal Bourchier. Sue Ellen Reiman is great as Lady Hastings (though I was a bit confused by the character in general, as she wears a suit and both Lady and Lord Hastings are often referenced). Jessa Schinske plays several roles, but her Prince Edward is definitely my favorite.
Reduxion Theatre Company continues the work professed in their mission statement, “To professionally produce both classical and contemporary theatre, enriching Oklahoma’s cultural, educational and economic climate, attracting artists and audiences from around the world”. Their fifth season, “Reduxion Revolution,” works to stretch Oklahoma’s cultural imagination with offerings not typically accessible to local audiences. Richard III runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through November 25th at the Broadway Theater at 8PM. Tickets and more information can be found online at Reduxion Theatre Company.