Lynn Robert Berg is a magnificent Richard IIIcruel, ambitious and mean. He displays qualities that seem bred into a villain. But he kills and lies with such charm and a bit of wit that I found myself completely taken with him and looking forward to his next appearance on stage.
Richard III is helped in his campaign for the throne by the Duke of Buckingham, played by David Anthony Smith. He wears his ambition and greed on his sleeve for all to see and grovels before Richard. Once on the throne, Richard casts this well-oiled friend under the bus.
The second part of the performance, the section following the one intermission, is the battle scene, and this is the best battle I've seen on a stage. The stage (maybe the theatre) rocked with explosions and gun shots. Smoke filled the air on stage, yet never poured into the audience.
Ken Merckx (Fight Choreographer) designed the fights and battle. He has placed the battle on the stage, in the theater's aisles, and in the back of the theater. I was surrounded. In the last portion of the production he has staged an exceptionally threatening battle.
Linda Buchanan (Scenic Designer) created a high-tech set constructed of metal frames and plastic walls. On both sides of the stage, metal stairs lead to a stage-wide platform (all the better for overhearing). At each death, the murdered one walks up stage, past an attendant holding a large tub. Queen Margaret, on the platform above the action, pours blood from a bucket down to the tub below.
Martha Hally (Costume Designer) has dressed the cast in 1960s style costumes. The men wear suits, ties and well-polished shoes. The women wear tight skirts, usually a close fitting suit, spiked-heel shoes, and, often, hats.
In truth, when Richard speaks those famous words "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," he is carrying a military style rifle and would not have known what to do with a horse if it had walked onto the stage. But his spirit and interpretation are correct. Joseph Hanreddy, the director, has brought a flawless production of a difficult play to the stage. The only thing I could want from this production would be another pair of tickets so that I can see Richard III again.
Great Lakes Theater is offering its public a superb performance of a rarely produced play.
Richard III shares the stage with another bloody production, Sweeney Todd. The two shows play through November 3, 2013. For ticket information, contact 216-664-6064 or visit www.greatlakestheater.org.
- David Ritchey