Mosaic / March 1, 2017

Review: ‘Richard III’ fails to spark enthusiasm

Mitch Prentice ’17, Mosaic Editor

Let’s take a moment and all accept that “Richard III” is a hard play to understand. Through the Shakespearean language and distant motifs, there’s much of this play that eludes the audience if one doesn’t take enough care to dissect it. Putting that aside, it comes down to the production crew to truly captivate the audience and relay this timely classic in a desirable manner.

The cast and crew of “Richard III” must be commended for their efforts and patience with learning this play and doing so well with the memorization of such an immense array of lines, but ultimately, this production wasn’t hugely successful.

To start, there were a number of standout performances that must be acknowledged. Lead performer senior Ian Tully did an outstanding job with the role of Richard and was able to deliver a multitude of lines that I cannot fathom how much time must have been put into perfecting. His believable accent and charisma were key to the entire show and held together many of the weak scenes.

Freshman Aidan Croft also brought forth some of the more realistic dialogue throughout the show and performed his lines with a truth to his speech. The lines didn’t sound forced and the banter between him and Tully was always a treat.

However, there was a steady decline in believability from this point on. Many of the lines were delivered with an awkward false nature and many of the actors in the scenes felt as if their lines were being read straight from a script. It was clear that many performers in this production were having trouble understanding their own lines and sounded like they were speaking in a foreign language.

To make up for this, many scenes were treated to an overly emotional cry or shouting to drown out the heavy dialogue. Such an abundance of dramatic yelling and sobbing made many of the scenes bleed together and drag on.

Which leads to the main issue with this production. The wardrobe was well made and believable (minus the strangely dressed infantry in the final act, wearing military uniforms that would not have been available in the 16th century), the sound design was atmospheric, the lighting was spectacular, but at the core of the production, it was simply a bore. Many scenes consisted of only dialogue without any significant movement, causing them to screech to a halt. There was no sense of excitement or passion. Even with Tully pulling every stop with his marvelous performance, it couldn’t be saved.

Perhaps there was an underlying message to be found through it all. Maybe the strange costume choices toward the final act and the recurrence of actors in multiple rolls were part of a larger subplot and theory that has run past my understanding. But if this is true, it needed to be displayed more clearly. The confusion felt throughout the production distanced me from the great moments riddled throughout.

I wanted to stand and provide a healthy applause by the end, celebrating the hard work and dedication that was put into this play, but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm. I was sore from sitting in tight theater seating for three hours and couldn’t help but feel as though this production was a missed opportunity to display something great.

Mitch Prentice
Mitch Prentice graduated in 2017, majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. He volunteered for TKS his sophomore and junior year, and worked as Mosaic Editor his senior year. He has interned alongside Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune and runs his own website.

Tags:  harbach theatre Ian Tully Knox College mainstage production review Richard III shakespeare theatre

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