Category Archive for: ‘Gaetana Caldwell-Smith’

Shakespeare’s “Richard III”

Aidan O'Reilly as Richard III

Aidan O’Reilly as Richard III

Sunday at the Marin Shakespeare Festival was Family Day.  What parents, I asked myself,  would subject their kids to a play about man who has his brother killed, his nephews locked up and eventually murdered, among others, so that he can be crowned King?  Seems lots.  Yes, I saw plenty of children from preadolescents to teens with their parents at Marin Shakes’ “Richard III,” the final show of its 2015 summer season.  They were rapt!  As was I.

Still, I was concerned about Aidan O’Reilly, the actor playing the lead.  In his publicity photos (see above), even in costume, he appears to be a dimpled, baby-face softy.  His performance put the lie to that as soon as he tread upon the boards.  I can’t say enough about his performance as Richard.  From the start, he exudes evil even when wooing  Anne, the widow of Prince Edward, whom he’d just had assassinated- the harbinger to his deadly path to the throne.  Anne is played somewhat flatly by Livia Demarchi, a beautiful actress who has yet to develop a means to attain depth and shading to bring her character more to life.  O’Reilly moves his misshapen Richard about the stage with the strength of his determination, letting nothing, not even his young nephews, sons of Queen Elizabeth- the Duke of York, aptly enacted by a self-aware Patrick Ewart, and Prince Edward, played by an assured Carl Robinett- get in his way.

O’Reilly heads a wonderful supporting cast including Mike Schaeffer as King Edward IV;  a passionate, determined Elena Wright as Elizabeth, Edward’s wife; dynamic Michael Jay Wisely as Lord Buckingham;  Nick Shoelly as a soft-spoken, deferring Duke of Clarence, the king’s youngest brother.  The characters opposed to Richard on the side of Richmond, the Lancastrian heir, who, with his men, eventually defeats him, are equally strong: Steven Price, Oxford; Blunt, Timothy Huls; and Herbert, Mike Abts.  Jackson Currier (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Orson Welles) plays Grey, Queen Elizabeth’s loutish brother.  He is  also Richmond whom he depicts as modest, self-effacing yet steely in his determination; he is an effective opponent, aided by his men, intent on not only righting the many evil wrongs, perpetrated by Richard but also putting an end to Richard’s murderous reign.

As always, able and talented actors enact those who add to the realism of the performance, notably Davern Wright- a standout in other productions, as Catesby, who never hesitates to carry out Richard’s orders;  Xander Ritchey; Michael Abts and Timothy Huls as murderers; David Schiller in dual roles as Stanley, Elizabeth’s brother, and Rivers, loyal to Richard;  Deborah Lagin does little more than show up as Princess Elizabeth, still, she makes her presence known.  Several actors play dual roles.

The show stopper is Phoebe Moyer who plays Margaret, former Queen of England, the dead king’s widow.  She wears his out-sized (for her) military jacket displaying his medals.  At this performance, she was applauded as she exited after delivering a long, emotional diatribe.  The production’s weak point is its final fight scene between Richmond and Richard’s armies.  Yet, Richard’s proverbial cry for a horse didn’t sound cliche.  All in all, the play is enjoyable, suspenseful, and exciting.

What I loved about director Robert Currier’s vision of this oft performed play is his use of anachronisms: characters take selfies on cell phones; others play as tabloid photographers; some male characters wear stylishly modern double-breasted suits, and Richard’s and Richmond’s soldiers and guards dress in camo, and carry automatic rifles. Richard also wears camo, carries an automatic rifle and curved knife as does Richmond.  Period and modern costumes are by Abra Berman and multi-talented Jackson Currier designed the set.


The final performances are weekends through Sept. 27.  Go to the Marin Shakespeare Company’s website for details.