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Richard III By William Shakespeare
Directed by Gregg W. Brevoort

Barnstormers Theatre Company
Baltimore, MD

 

the JOHNS hOPKINS NEWS-LETTER
Barnstormers tackle ole Bill'
s Richard III
By A. Kennedy

– “The sharp acting and beautifully dark atmosphere retained the audience's interest and carried the drama smoothly along its long, bloody path”

Staging William Shakespeare's Richard III is a considerable task under any circumstances. The Barnstormers, under the direction of guest Gregg W. Brevoort, prepared the five-act history in only as many weeks, for rendition over six nights in Arellano Theater (April 14-16, 21-23.) Ably produced by Vadim Schick and Christina Moreno, and enhanced with excellent design and strong performances, the play carried itself, for the most part, very gracefully.

The set designed by Mr. Brevoort and Dawn Antoline made simple use of the space available in Arellano. Painted metal-plate backdrops flanked the stage, leaving the remaining surface, as well as the aisles and the two balconies, open to the players' movement. Liz Austin's lighting arrangement was used with quite stunning atmospheric effect to section the large open space into more focused scenes. The dramatic selections from Philip Glass played in the intervals and at the finale were appropriate, but somewhat weakened by Arellano's sub-standard sound system.

Costume design (by Christina Moreno) contributed further to the moody aesthetics of the play. Like the set, the mono- and duo-chrome outfits were simple but effective, creating a distinct color pattern against the dark background.

The extensive cast presented a cohesive front of good acting, distinguished most notably by the powerful performances of Lords Hastings and Buckingham (Jerry Wu and Benjamin Blake), the Duchess of York (Melissa Rosen), and old Queen Margaret (Christina Moreno), all of whom sustained remarkable intensity throughout the three-hour play. Richard himself (Stephen Reich) exuded an appropriately evil aura and delivered his lines in a seductively conspiratorial tone. Every actor displayed firm, personal command over his or her character, and the dialogues were accordingly tight, despite only minimal deletions in the massive script.

Many of the scenes were quite successful, with nice alternation between heavy monologue and quicker, even amusing, interchanges, such as with the murderers of Clarence (Brian Gish and Chris Celano.) In the end, the sharp acting and beautifully dark atmosphere retained the audience's interest and carried the drama smoothly along its long, bloody path.