KING RICHARD III I am goth! Look at my eye makeup! ELIZABETH I am also goth! Look at everybody die! EVERYBODY When World War 3 is over, anybody who doesn't die will be Goth! CAST OF AMERICAN IDIOT We'd complain that you stole our "thing", but you sing better than us.It's been said that there are two types of Shakespearean productions: those that are performed by actors who understand the fiber of every word they say with a sense of truth and understanding, and those which are performed by actors who might convey the general jist of the line, instead depending on the overarching concept of the production to carry it home. Director James Presson's solid and compelling production of RICHARD 3 at FringeNYC accomplishes the first fantastically, but occasionally falters at the second.
The premise (as told to me by the program but not so much by the show itself) is that a post-apocalyptic Britain has left behind a world run by punk rockers donned in some impressive mood-evoking costumes by Marissa Parkes. Jake Ahlquist centers the production with a maniacally-demented King Richard as if he were played by a younger Jim Carrey (or as my fringemate said, Heath Ledger-as-the-Joker-as-Richard, complete with the eye makeup). The cast is uniformly excellent, with Rachel Buethe's Elizabeth being a particularly moving standout. Where the production suffers is in the premise; I found that the use of punk songs often stopped the play's momentum. And yet the inclusion of an onstage band made the music-less portions seem to feel even slower without bits to break up the slower first act. I probably felt this way because of the intermission-less two hour running time, but I'm going to give the cast and crew the benefit of the doubt that the show was originally conceived with an intermission that they were forced to remove because of time constraints.
Regardless, this is more polished and solid a production than most Fringe I've seen, and by the second half I was rooting for the blood, Cory Asinofsky's effective fight choreography, and Mike Fabano's very catchy finale music. It is rare to find a Fringe production of Shakespeare that shows that Shakespeare is more than just "something we can perform for free", and RICHARD 3 is just that rarity.
Richard 3 plays as part of the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival.
SAT 8/14 @ 2:45; SUN 8/15 @ 8:30; WED 8/18 @ 1:45; THUR 8/19 @ 4:30; FRI 8/20 @ 9:15 VENUE #7: The Ellen Stewart Theatre @ LA MAMA
Based on the play by William Shakespeare. Adapted and Directed by James Presson
Purchase tickets at http://www.fringenyc.org/
More information at http://lessthanrentproductions.com/