Agecroft’s ‘Richard III’ Accurately Retells The Shakespeare Classic
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
“Richard III” is the second installment of Richmond Shakespeare and Henley Street Theatre’s summer series at Agecroft Hall. As one of Shakespeare’s longest plays, second only to “Hamlet,” “Richard III” is an intense tragedy focusing on King Richard III’s accession to the throne and ending with his eventual death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which concluded the War of the Roses in England.
The performance of this play is quite timely, as the remains of Richard III were recently recovered in an excavation in 2012. After much debate and DNA evidence was considered, the remains are set to be re-interred later this year in Leicester Cathedral.
Richard III suffered from severe scoliosis, and in Shakespeare’s play this malady requires Andrew Platner, who plays Richard in this production, to use a cane continuously throughout the performance. Richard desires to be king and will stop at nothing to be crowned. He murders, lies to and betrays those closest to him and no one is safe from his wrath.
Platner gives as amazing performance as the unsavory king. The role is quite physically demanding and Platner fully commits. He plays Richard the villain very well, but never so much that he is hated by the audience. Alexander Sapp, who plays Buckingham, an ambitious duke who initially assists Richard in obtaining the crown, is a particular standout. Sapp portrays Buckingham as a bit of a dandy, the large pearl earring he wears is a stark contrast to the more modest dress of his counterparts.
Lady Anne, Richard’s first wife, is played by Laura Rocklyn, who gives an amazing performance. You can definitely tell that Rocklyn not only understood her lines, but felt them deeply as well. Molly Hood and David Janosik are regulars on the Shakespeare stage and they never disappoint. Hood is heartbreaking as Queen Elizabeth, who Richard has ruthlessly robbed of most everything she loves. You can feel the pain in her voice as she mourns loss and confronts her uncertain future after Richard takes the throne. Janosik plays several roles in this production, but his most emotional is as Tyrrel, who has been hired by Richard to undertake a very gruesome endeavor. I am consistently impressed by Janosik’s authenticity in the roles he plays.
Directed by James Alexander Bond, I found the acting in this production to be very strong, but the play is just too long. The script is often trimmed to make it shorter and I definitely believe that there are several scenes that may be eliminated without affecting the overall tone and story line.
There is also a bit of inconsistency in the accents within the cast. Some sounded British, some American, some I’m not so sure, a little more consistency would have been less distracting.
The costumes by Emily Price are gorgeous, some of the most impressive I have seen on the stage at Agecroft. BJ Wilkinson’s lighting is perfection, adding depth and emotion to the many scenes.
This production is a long one, clocking in at nearly 2 and a half hours, so be prepared as the seats at Agecroft aren’t the comfiest.
“Richard III” will be at Agecroft through August 3rd.
www.henleystreettheatre.org for information and tickets.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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