Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Richmond has staged a muscular production of Shakespeare's play, anchored by Drew Cortese as a very physical Richard. Unlike traditional portrayals of the character as hunchbacked and with a weak arm, Cortese lunges when he walks but otherwise is as adept with weapons as he is with words. (He also knows his way around a rabble-rousing speech or an appropriate photo op, appearing piously with two friars as he coyly refuses the crown.)
Tony Cisek's scenic designa dark glass platform with numerous trapdoorsand Jim Hunter's tightly focused lighting design place the action in the sepulcher where Richard traps his victims and disposes of their bodies. While the many murders are bloodless, they are no less chilling for that; indeed, the scene with the young princes in the tower (Holden Brettell and Remy Brettell) begins charmingly before the horror sets in.
Sixteen skilled actors play all the roles, many of them doubling and tripling. Naomi Jacobson gives another vibrant performance as the furious Queen Margaret, who lost both her husband and her son to Richard, and Nanna Ingvarsson conveys a sort of regal resignation as Richard's mother. Howard W. Overshown is majestic as Richard's ally Buckingham, while Michael Sharon impresses as both the doomed Duke of Clarence and Richard's feral henchman Catesby.
More puzzling is Julia Motyka as Queen Elizabeth, wife of Richard's sickly brother King Edward (Paul Morella) and mother to the young princes. She's appropriately proud and diffident, but Mariah Hale has dressed her in a blood-red gown with a black leather corset and black feather trim. It's the only jolt of color in a largely black and gray palette, but the reason for it is never made clear in her performance.