Lights on, props ready. Hold onto your teddy bears, because the bloody tale of Richard III has made its way to Bridgewater State University’s stage!
Directed by Katherine Alix-Gaudreau, a professor here at BSU, the show has a marvelous cast of students that make the theater department proud with their phenomenal acting skills. Every character made an impact and made their role leave an impression on the audience, despite almost every actor playing multiple roles.
But before I get into the acting, I’d like to talk about the non-acting aspects of the show.
Being able to watch a BSU production in an actual theater for the first time since my freshman year, I cannot even begin to express the excitement I felt when I grabbed a playbook and took my seat. Despite every member of the cast wearing masks (good on them!), the show was still bound to be marvelous.
My excitement was quickly dampened when I realized the falsely advertised length of the show, claiming two hours when it was three. While Richard III is known as an extremely long production, usually around 4 hours, I do wish that the real-time had been made public before the audience was already halfway through the show.
As did much of the rest of the audience I’d imagine, as a little less than half of them left during intermission.
While I am usually all for immersive theater, the set design for this particular production was rather difficult for me to enjoy. Along with a stage consisting of a massive projector screen and a two-level balcony-type structure, three smaller stages were sat about midway up the house for different scenes. However, the placement of these stages was rather inconvenient, as no matter where you sat in the audience, you needed to continuously turn to see the different stages. With one on the left, right, and in the middle, audience members were easily able to see the middle stage but had difficulty viewing the side ones.
Although the concept is good in theory, allowing the audience to see little scene snippets away from the main chaos of the stage, its execution was poorly done and ended up being more of a hassle for audience members instead of something that enhanced the show.
But let’s get back to the acting. While set design is important, even if I do not enjoy the design I will still enjoy the show if the acting is good. With regards to the cast for Richard III, the acting was, as I stated above, amazing. Every cast member played their roles perfectly, some with enough enthusiasm to make me jump out of my skin.
While the entire cast did a great job, some performances stood out, including Colin Lamusta’s (he/him) utterly creepy and unnerving portrayal of Richard, Shayla Young (she/her) in every role she played, be it as a murderous guard or an elderly grandma, and Madison Bradbury (she/her) as the powerful and rageful Queen Margaret.
Certain scenes made a particular impact on the audience, in ways that were both haunting and vicious.
Quartz Aguiar’s (they/them) role as the young Duke of York was very good, but it was their brutal death scene that pulled me into the show the most. The choreography of the murder was one that I will remember for a very long time.
The suicide scene of Britney Mallebranche (she/her) as Lady Anne was devastatingly good, both the song choice and the actor’s movements. The only scene in the show where an actor was not wearing a mask, and her facial expressions matched the absolute despair of her character’s death.
If you were able to take the time, because the show was three hours long, I hope that you had a chance to catch a showing of BSU’s Richard III before they closed on the 30th. Despite my feelings on the staging, I did love the show and would see it again for the acting alone.