Saturday, April 20, 2019

Richard II

Richard II is a historical play written by William Shakespeare in 1597. It is being presented at the Orlando Shakes through April 28, 2019. Richard II (Ryan Farley) was an arrogant, narcissistic and bumbling king. He surrounded himself with sycophants who fed off his good fortune and did his bidding. By brashly putting his own vanity before the needs of his kingdom, he created the perfect opening for Bolingbroke (Amy Hutchins) to seize the throne.

His true self was stripped bare when he had to surrender the crown. When he took the crown off his head and handed it to his foe, he couldn't bring himself to let go. He cried and ranted like a spoiled child extending his monologue as long as possible to avoid his ultimate surrender. At one point he stood in a spotlight high above his throne, with the crown above his head. As he lowered his arms, Bolingbroke stepped in front of him to allow him to place the crown on her head. Richard turned, hopped down and continued his monologue.

The Shakes production his set in modern times with a gender equal cast. To help the audience with the casting, they would often announce their name and title as they walked onto the stage. The set by Ruthmarie Tenorio, resembled a royal garden and the golden rings floating above stage of course represented the crown. At one point one giant ring floated down to surround the jailed King Richard further confining him. "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." Mirrored boxes were repositioned in each scene to break up the space and to remind the audience of the kings vanity.

I have to give a shout out to the costume designer (Denise R. Warner) who made Bolingboke look regal and refined in every scene. In equal measure she made the royal court look like spoiled dandies and the common folk like mid-western farmers.

The language in the play was delicious. It is some of the most engaging prose I have heard from Shakespeare and the modern twist made it clear that out modern rulers are not that different from the rulers of the past, though they might be less eloquent. For the final act I put the sketch away and just let the prose wash over me. Every character had clear motivation and the story flowed unhindered to its inevitable conclusion. I absolutely adored this production.

These are the remaining show dates. Don't miss Richard II!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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