Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Richard II

Northwest Classical Theater Co. **Photo credit: Rio**
April 17 - May 24, 2009

Review by peanutduck


Surface: Amok with Shakespeare-acting voice (lovely tone, little meaning); muscle-cramping immobility; confusing cross-casting. Underbelly: Dramaturgical essay indicates gender-bender more than gimmickry; but intent doesn’t transpire. Instead, I saw women playing men, rather than exploration of how feminine power – divinely begotten or otherwise - in action differs (and/or doesn’t) from masculine.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love Cecily Overman! This looks great!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who else is in the cast?

followspot said...

Per their website:

Richard II - Paige Jones
Henry Bolingbroke/Chorus - Cecily Overman
Duke of Aumerle - Brooke Fletcher
Henry Percy - Allison Anderson
Bishop of Carlisle - Melinda Strobel
Sir William Bagot - Melissa Kaiser
Thomas Mowbray - Racheal Erickson
Sir John Bushy - Jennifer Untalan
Duchess of Gloucester - Christy Drogosch
York - Sarah Dresser
John of Gaunt - Mindi Logan

Directed by JoAnn Johnson

Little Chef said...

Just saw this show tonight--it is excellent! Strong ensemble acting, and the Greek chorus element is unconventional but electrifying. The actresses have lovely, low grounded voices and striking stage presence. I especially liked the actress who played Gaunt--wonderful physicality. Go girls!

monty said...

One of the strongest ensembles I have seen on a Portland stage in a long time. Cecily Overman is a stunning and charismatic stage presence, lovely textured work and interesting choices from Paige Jones, very strong support from Dresser, Anderson, Strobel and Erickson as always. Mindi Logan is a standout as Gaunt.
The entire cast is just fantastic and major props to JoAnn Johnson for taking one of Shakespeare's talkiest and most stagnant plays and filling it with immediacy, passion and tension.
This has been a great year for NW Classical and this is a strong finale to their season. Definitely check it out!

Tom said...

For God's sake sit your bum upon a seat a listen to this sad story of the death of a king! The cast is brilliant, the show is electric, and the direction is visually stunning. This show illustrates the wonderful talent of Portland's female actors. I think it would be a wise decision for more directors to consider all-female casting. It would be foolish to miss this show.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tom. This show is one of the best I've seen in town. I've seen these women in other shows over the years, and it's their best work to date. The direction and production elements plus the outstanding acting and amazing story telling creates one of the best nights at the theater.
Another winner of NWCTC. Don't miss this show!

Anonymous said...

Anything that Cecily Overman does is fantastic! I can't wait to see her latest endeavor.

Dale said...

I just saw this, and I was bowled over. It's long been my favorite Shakespeare play -- I guess I'm a sucker for "stagnant and wordy" :-) -- and I've seen a number of really good productions of it. This was one of the best I've seen. There's nothing gimmicky-feeling about the all-female cast: it does illuminating things to the experience, but mostly you're just watching terrific Shakespeare.

Richard is tricky to cast because you need two really strong leads for the play to work -- both Richard & Bolingbroke have to be able to dominate the stage, without one overshadowing the other. Jones and Overman are perfect foils for each other. Great electricity between them at the climax, when each is trying to steal the moral victory from the other.

Logan's Gaunt had tears in my eyes twice. And Dresser was a fabulous York. The whole cast was terrific -- I could rave about each one.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a wise decision for more directors to consider all-female castingWhy? As a gimmick? Shakespeare is malleable enough to "get away" with this, but what about other shows?

And what about the reverse: an all male cast of "Jake's Women" or "Steel Magnolias"? Is that "wise", or would people be up in arms?

Anonymous said...

any casting that is outside what the script calls for is a gimmick.
but if it serves the script, then who is to object?
theatre is about entertainment and idealy should be thought provoking as well.

Anonymous said...

wonderful cast and wonderful space.
can't wait to see what they tackle next!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I agree with peanutduck or not. Were these women acting like men or was it just difficult to see women so unbridled with ambition and power. I had a simillar challenge with Hillary during the primaries. Yes, the performances seemed a bit emotionally detached but that may have been due to my own hangups and not their work. An interesting performance all the same, and the ensemble work was exceptional.

Anonymous said...

The contrast between what i thought and what i felt about the production was frustrating for me.

i admired the clarity and the technique of the players in my brain.

my heart was a bit starved by the missing emotional depth that is there in the text but omitted by most of the players, especially the actors playing Richard and Bolingbrook's characters.

the stand-out exception was the performance by the actor playing Gaunt. She hit both.

Anonymous said...

which gaunt did you see?
there were two.
one was the director and one was
sara.

pjj said...

Gaunt has always been played by Mindi Logan. The director, JoAnn Johnson, performed the role of York this 3rd of 6 weekends. Sarah Dresser, who usually plays York, will be back next weekend to finish the run.

And I have to say how interesting it is to hear talk of "women playing men." During rehearsal and performance I have not at all attempted to "act like a man," rather I made a choice to not endow Richard with my own (Paige's) "feminine tells." The result is what you see on stage.

So, honestly, I love that some people may interpret an intended absence of feminine tricks as a show of masculinity, or a lack of emotional depth. Because, if casting females in these parts must be conceived as "gimmick," then that gimmick's point is to see what transpires on stage when women are allowed to play characters who unapologetically and without artifice state and pursue their goals.

The feminist part of me could go on and on, but I'll stop now. What do other attendees think? Are we making a social statement or providing a shallow interpretation of character?

Thanks for the forum, Paige Jones (Richard)

Anonymous said...

maybe this has already been adressed, so sorry about that, but why did you choose not change the gender references?
he, his, him, etc?

Anonymous said...

ya, ok, i am such a dork.
in the program right under sara dresser's name it says:
"gaunt"
but it is just a badly laid out program.
the actress's names are under the character, not over.
my bad.
yay for mindi!